Rural grants to encourage healthy activity in communities

November 2, 2012 Najla Amundson

We want to encourage rural health care providers to be champions of healthy activity in their communities. As part of our role as The Official Sponsor of Recess, we have announced that we will offer grant funding to providers who can develop new ideas to promote daily, physical activities as a break for North Dakotans of all ages.

Official Sponsor of Recess logoFinancial support, based on established criteria, will be awarded to those applicants whose proposals for 2013 best benefit rural North Dakotans and their communities. The grants will allow all ages to embrace more physical activity as well as highlight the concerns of increasing obesity rates in the state.

"Many chronic conditions stem from being overweight. And it's those same chronic conditions that create the majority of the cost to our health care system," said Paul von Ebers, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. "These grants are intended to support changing our sedentary lifestyle, regardless of where you live in North Dakota or your age."

The University of North Dakota's Center for Rural Health has facilitated the rural health grant program on behalf of BCBSND since the program's inception in 2001 as an effort to strengthen and support the rural health delivery system in North Dakota. Completed grant proposals, for programs scheduled for January through December of 2013, are due on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. The full announcement and grant guidance is available here.

Recess Yes! posterThe new emphasis on addressing North Dakota's escalating problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, are in line with our role as The Official Sponsor of Recess. This platform promotes, advocates and encourages daily physical activities as a break for North Dakotans of all ages. The rural health grant program is the second BCBSND initiative announced under The Official Sponsor of Recess platform. The first, announced in September, is Recess YES!, which provides North Dakota kindergarten through fifth grade teachers with tools and ideas to incorporate recess — a brain break or physical break — during the school day in the classroom.

More than $3 million and a total of 66 different grants have been awarded since BCBSND first initiated the rural health grant program. Through the agreement with BCBSND to help develop and administer the program, the Center for Rural Health facilitates the application process and review, notifies the grantees of their award determinations, monitors each program's progress through the year and releases the grant funds.

What do you think of the new direction of our rural health grants? Do you have any ideas for good grant proposals you'd like to see?