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  BlueCHIP (registered trademark) Winning Communities Receive $2,500 to Further Efforts to Create Healthy Environments
   

BlueCHIP® Winning
Communities Receive $2,500 to Further Efforts to Create Healthy Environments

From the northeast corner of the state to a western border county and locations in-between, Kansans are working together to build healthier communities for residents to live, work and play in. Five such communities were honored today for their health-focused efforts as coalitions from Atchison, Emporia, Greeley County, Pratt and Winfield received BlueCHIP® Awards from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA).

In winning a BlueCHIP Award, the five communities will each receive $2,500 to assist the coalitions in continuing their efforts to improve the health of their communities. The BlueCHIP Awards were announced today during a luncheon at the 2015 KRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show, Capitol Plaza Hotel, Topeka.

In its fifth year, BlueCHIP is a community health improvement program created to recognize and reward Kansas communities that encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events.  "Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is proud to recognize and reward Atchison, Emporia, Greeley County, Pratt and Winfield for their respective efforts to both identify the health concerns in their communities and then work collaboratively to create solutions to address those concerns," said Marlou Wegener, BCBSKS manager of community relations. "These BlueCHIP awardees have come up with creative and fun ways to focus local residents on fitness, nutrition and healthy lifestyles, and are seeing positive results for their efforts."

Erika Devore, RD, executive director of KRPA, said that KRPA takes pride in recognizing communities that are actively working to improve the collective health of their residents.  "There seems to be a growing dialogue in our state about the need for improving the collective health of Kansans, and these BlueCHIP winners are doing more than talking; they are putting words into action through programs, initiatives, policies and community-wide events," Devore said.  "KRPA is proud to encourage grassroots initiatives by recognizing these five communities for their efforts to both thoughtfully identify local health concerns and then commit time, energy and resources to working together to build healthier environment for residents."

The BlueCHIP selection committee was comprised of representatives from Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, League of Kansas Municipalities, KRPA  and BCBSKS. 

Following is information on each of the BlueCHIP awardees:

Atchison – Live Well, Live AtchisonNominated by: Aggie Asher, Live Well, Live Atchison, (913) 360-5597, aasher@atchhosp.org.

Intended use of award: Live Well, Live Atchison plans to use its BlueCHIP funds to expand the reach of the coalition's annual Backpack Giveaway program by purchasing additional supplies and backpacks. In 2014, the program provided more than 600 students with the supplies needed to get the school year started off right and the children excited about learning. Live Well, Live Atchison has plans to grow the giveaway event to include a health fair with health-focused educational displays for students and parents.

Partner organizations: Atchison Hospital, The Guidance Center of Atchison and Atchison Family YMCA.

Emporia – Emporia Recreation Commission:  Nominated by: Jennifer Bennett, Emporia Recreation Commission, (620) 340-6300, jbennett@emporiarec.org.

Intended use of award: The Emporia Recreation Commission plans to use its award to purchase additional equipment which will make the many race events now hosted in Emporia – both running and cycling – more efficient to operate and more fun for participants and volunteers. The number of participants in the Dirty Kanza 200, billed as the world's Premiere Gravel Road Race, continues to grow, while the number of 5K running events hosted in the city has increased from two or three a year to one almost every month.

Partner organizations: Emporia School District (USD 253), Dirty Kanza Promotions, Veteran's Day Committee, Emporia Main Street, Emporia Recreation Commission.

Unified County of Greeley – Greeley County Parks and Trails Action Team:  Nominated by: Lisa Moritz, Greeley County Health Department, Greeley County Schools, (620) 376-4200, nurse04@fairpoint.net.

Intended use of award: The Parks and Trails Action Team intends to put it's BlueCHIP funds towards the re-development of Tribune's City Park and the establishment of a comprehensive trail plan for Unified Greeley County.  Planning is underway to improve the park with new playground equipment, an enhanced disc golf course, a walking trail, lighting, benches and more. The team hopes to complete the park re-design by the end of 2016.

Partner organizations: Greeley County Health Department, Greeley County Schools, Greeley County Community Development, Greeley County Parks and Trails Action Team.

Pratt – Pratt Health Coalition:  Nominated by: DeWayne Bryan, Pratt Health Foundation/Pratt Health Coalition, (620) 672-6411, dbryan@prmc.org.

Intended use of award: The Pratt Health Coalition intends to use its BlueCHIP funds to expand the town's sidewalk system by providing links between existing sidewalks and primary destinations in Pratt in order to encourage residents to walk more. In addition, the coalition will look to expand activity areas such as paddle boats, canoeing, horseshoe pits and disc golf courses in Pratt.

Partner organizations: Pratt Regional Medical Center, Pratt Health Foundation, Pratt Health Department, City of Pratt, County of Pratt, USD 382, Pratt Recreation Department, Blythe Fitness Center, Pratt Chamber of Commerce, Agape Health Clinic, Pratt Family Practice, Pratt Community College; Pratt County Extension; Pratt Rotary Club; USD 438; Breastfeeding Coalition, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Winfield – Cowley County Healthy Communities Coalition:  Nominated by: Becky Reid, K-State Research and Extension Cowley County, (620) 221-5450, bkreid@ksu.edu.

Intended use of award: The coalition intends to invest its BlueCHIP financial award to address local health challenges and support a number of programs. The dollars will be used to support tennis instructional programs at the community's remodeled and expanded tennis complex, purchase items for Family Fun Night, offer family cooking classes, and provide nutrition and physical activity interventions in the schools.

Partner organizations: Cowley County Healthy Communities Coalition, City-Cowley County Health Department, Cowley Fitness, Cowley First-Cowley County Economic Development Partnership, Family Life Services, Four County Mental Health, Healthways of William Newton Hospital, K-State Research and Extension Cowley County, Southwestern College, USD 465, Winfield Public Library, Winfield Parks Department and Winfield Recreation Commission.



About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas For more than 70 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas has built a reputation of trust with its members and contracting providers by providing outstanding customer service while quickly and accurately processing claims; fairly administering benefit plans and contracts; offering programs, services and tools to help members improve or maintain their health; and operating under the highest ethical standards while being good stewards of premium dollars. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and is the state’s largest insurer, serving all Kansas counties except Johnson and Wyandotte. For more information, visit www.bcbsks.com.

About Kansas Recreation and Park Association Kansas Recreation and Park Association is a non-profit, professional corporation dedicated to the promotion of healthy lifestyles in Kansas communities through the wise use of recreation and stewardship of parks and natural resources. KRPA is comprised of citizens and park and recreation professionals who serve millions of Kansans and tourists at parks, open spaces and recreation facilities, and through healthy programs for children, adults and senior citizens.
   
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