BCBS companies support community health initiatives to encourage active lifestyles

Published July 6, 2016

Leading an active lifestyle is essential to maintaining everyday wellness. While staying healthy can seem hard during those early morning swims or late night jogs, sometimes a change of scenery provides the extra inspiration you need to power through, be it a stroll through a beautiful park, an organized walk or passing a bike stand on your way to work. When communities have access to resources that encourage activity, they have the opportunity to become healthier together.

That’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies make community investments that help create an environment that encourages physical activity. With a presence in every zip code in the United States, we are committed to finding unique ways to help your community reach its health goals through the creation of resources like playgrounds, hiking trails and walking programs. The following are just a few examples of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies putting their plans into action, with inspiring results.

Operating Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) found an innovative way to help their communities get much-needed exercise while increasing access to exercise equipment and facilities. Through its HealthyKids, Healthy Families® initiative, HCSC made significant investments to increase activity levels for more than 2.5 million children and their families by building playgrounds in underserved communities. In partnership with KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to ensuring children have a childhood filled with balanced and active play, HCSC donated $5.7 million in funding and helped to build eight new playgrounds, four imagination playgrounds and five shade structures. By providing access to safe and fun places to play in local communities, residents will enjoy the long term benefits of staying active throughout life.

In Louisiana, the community faces a longstanding problem of its population lingering at the bottom of poverty and obesity trend lines. In an effort to reverse these negative trends and their effects on individuals, families and communities, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation invested $10.2 million in 12 public-philanthropic partnerships as part of the Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant program. This funding goes toward innovative, locally driven projects to encourage communities to eat right and move more. With a special emphasis on high risk, low income areas, the BCBSLA Foundation has helped to build 34 new or improved sidewalk, trail or crosswalk segments, 25 miles of new walking/biking paths and provided new or improved facilities for 49 parks and schools.

In Idaho, the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health took a different approach by partnering with St. Luke’s and the Idaho Dairy Council to celebrate the month of “Walktober” with the Mayor’s School Walking Challenge, an initiative program designed to promote childhood wellness and support the fight against childhood obesity. The program—which featured more than 27,000 students in 64 different schools walking 182,883 miles and 27 mayors walking 9,682 miles in Southwest and South Central Idaho —challenged participants to count their steps for a chance to win money for new physical activity and lunchroom equipment in schools and playground improvements in parks. The mayors led by example with their involvement and demonstrated that not only is a commitment to an active lifestyle important, it can be fun, too.

To learn more about these programs and other ways Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are making a difference in their local communities, download the full Investing in America’s Health report.