Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas announced last week it has selected the Live Healthy Franklin County Coalition, along with 23 other communities in Kansas, as grantees for its second phase of Pathways to a Healthy Kansas initiative.
This includes 12 returning communities that were selected in the initiative's first phase of grants. Pathways to a Healthy Kansas is the largest community grant program ever funded by BCBSKS.
Since the initiative began in 2016, BCBSKS has donated more than $11.7 million in grants and assistance to communities throughout Kansas. The Pathways program was created to inspire long-lasting, community-wide health and wellness in communities across Kansas.
"We are excited to recognize our second cohort of Pathways grantees," said Matt All, president and CEO of BCBSKS. "We have been rooted in Kansas for over 75 years and have a commitment to our neighbors to strengthen the health of all Kansans."
The Pathways initiative aims to help remove barriers to accessing healthy foods, increasing physical activity and preventing commercial tobacco use.
The grant funding includes a coordination grant of $200,000 for each community. In addition, Live Healthy Franklin County will have the opportunity to apply for non-competitive implementation grants amounting to $200,000, for a total of up to $400,000.
"The Pathways funding has empowered our coalition to make great progress across all of Franklin County over the last four years," said Sheila Robertson, Live Healthy Franklin County Coalition’s grant coordinator. "Every town/city in Franklin County has had an interest in promoting healthy living throughout their community. The Live Healthy Franklin County Coalition is thrilled to be chosen as a recipient of this additional funding and is looking forward to making an even bigger impact on Healthy Living in Franklin County."
The Pathways grant addresses the three behaviors of focus — physical activity, commercial tobacco prevention and healthy eating — that reduce risk for serious health conditions though six areas or work, or pathways. The pathways include community and social context; neighborhood and physical environment; food; health care; education; economic stability; and striving to improve conditions that are the drivers of health in a community.
"COVID-19 has brought about stress, anxiety and uncertainty. During these trying times, it is ever so important to make personal and community well-being a priority," said Erin Laurie, Franklin County Health Department health educator and WIC nutritionist. "Pathways funding will enable our Coalition to focus on the social, mental and physical well-being of Franklin County residents. The Franklin County Health Department is very grateful for this investment in our community."
The mission of the Live Healthy Franklin County Coalition is to improve community health through policies that support healthy eating and active living. In 2016, the coalition was one of eight Kansas community coalitions to receive a four-year Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. Over that time, the coalition’s focus has been on increasing the number of community venues that offer healthy food and beverage choices, as well as enhancing active living through bicycle/pedestrian and playground improvements, to promote a safer, family-friendly, healthy living environment.