Pam Kehaly is president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), the state’s largest locally owned healthcare insurer.
BCBSAZ awards $150K to help improve health of Arizonans
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) announced the winners of the second annual Get Fit. Don’t Quit! Spotlight Awards, recognizing organizations across Arizona that are inspiring health and wellness in their local communities. BCBSAZ awarded a total of $150,000 – including five $10,000 prizes to organizations across the state, and an all-new $100,000 Get Fit. Don’t Quit! Fitness Center to Kiser Elementary School in Gila Bend, Ariz.
BCBSAZ and fitness icon Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld launched the Get Fit. Don’t Quit! program in 2018 to inspire Arizonans to live a healthier lifestyle through fun and engaging videos and tips on being active, eating better and staying motivated. Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of BCBSAZ, and Steinfeld announced the winners of the 2020 Spotlight Awards at a ceremony in downtown Phoenix on Monday, March 2.
Honorees were selected in six categories, with five winners receiving $10,000 from BCBSAZ to help further their health initiatives. Kiser Elementary School was presented with the $100,000 fitness center that will provide students, faculty and community members with a state-of-the-art exercise facility.
“When we first introduced the Get Fit. Don’t Quit! program, our hope was to inspire Arizonans to live a healthier lifestyle,” said Kehaly. “The Spotlight Award winners represent the type of dedication and commitment to health that inspires us to continue supporting innovative community programs that impact everyone in our state.”
Kiser Elementary School was selected for providing safe recreational spaces for its students, as well as members of the community. The K-8 school is surrounded by rural farmland in Gila Bend and public recreation spaces are limited for residents of the area. Kiser has opted to keep the school’s soccer fields and playgrounds open for residents to use on evenings and weekends.
“We have an incredible student body and our teachers are passionate about ensuring we lead by example when promoting healthy habits,” said Kristin Turner, principal of Kiser Elementary School and superintendent of Paloma Elementary School District. “The fitness center will not only introduce physical education to our students but also offer our staff – and our entire community – a space where they can improve their health through exercise.”
Kiser hosts free recreation programs for students and opens its pool to the public every summer to keep youth engaged and active. During the school year, sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students participate in daily 15-minute jogging breaks. The school also implemented a morning recess before breakfast last year to help increase physical activity and reduce tardy counts.
Additional winners recognized during Monday’s ceremony included:
• Business of the Year, Dancing in the Streets AZ: The studio provided dance lessons to more than 200 low-income and at-risk students in 2019. It was recognized for its dedication to breaking down cultural barriers through performing arts and focusing on providing the Tucson’s youth with an outlet to improve physical and mental health.
• City of the Year, City of Yuma: The city was honored for establishing its ‘Yuma’s Wellness Ambassadors’ volunteer program that helped connect city employees with wellness initiatives that are available to them. Yuma invests in preventive care for its employees and incentivizes annual visits to a primary care physician. Most recently, the city transformed an unused space into a ‘wellness room’ for employees that features physical fitness equipment and designated areas for relaxation.
• County of the Year, Yavapai County: The county was commended for developing a coalition program that brought more than 20 health service providers in the county together and introduced a comprehensive website for school officials to access when seeking health resources for students. The county also launched an annual “Yavapai Healthy Schools” award program that recognizes schools for their efforts to improve health and wellness for students.
• School District of the Year, Humboldt Unified School District: Last year, the district’s wellness coordinator increased recess time throughout the school day and administered nutrition education courses in more than 70 classrooms.
• Tribal Nation of the Year, White Mountain Apache Tribe: The tribe has engaged in a public health partnership with Johns Hopkins University for more than 40 years, and designed solutions for health disparities that are common among tribal nations. Programs have evolved over the years to focus on the most immediate health concerns of the community. Most recently, they’ve focused on developing a youth sports program that promotes fitness, nutrition and reproductive health among Native youth.
Construction of the new fitness center at Kiser Elementary School will break ground this summer and is expected to be completed by the start of the 2020-2021 school year. For more information on Get Fit. Don’t Quit!, visit getfitdontquit.com