Building Healthy Families Program to Receive $20,000 Grant From Blue Cross/Blue Shield Friday (July 30)

Dr. Kate Heelan
Building Healthy Families program co-director, 308

UNK- A program designed to help curb child obesity in the Kearney area is receiving a $20,000 boost.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) has been awarded a BlueHealth Advantage Wellness Grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska to help fund its Building Healthy Families program. A check presentation is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1, at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds’ Courtyard Venue, located just east of the Exhibit Building. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Kate Heelan, project director and an associate professor in the UNK Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and Jack Mills, chair of the board of directors at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, will discuss the impact of the grant and of the Building Healthy Families project. Participants in the program will also be present to share their experiences.

“We really appreciate receiving the grant which allows us to have an impact on more area youth,” Heelan said. “Building Healthy Families has been a rewarding experience for me and for the rest of our team.”

Building Healthy Families is a family-based obesity treatment program for 6- to 11-year-old children in the Kearney area. Obesity is a growing problem throughout the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of obese adults has nearly doubled in 30 years (to 34 percent), while the number of obese children has tripled (to 17 percent). The program’s core components stress the importance of physical activity and nutrition, while striving for behavioral modification among participants.

Results from previous years have been positive. For example, participants who have completed at least 12 weeks of the program have lost an average of 5.1 percent of their body mass. While children are the primary participants, parents and siblings have benefitted from the program as well.

This is the second straight year Blue Cross has supported the Building Healthy Families program with its BlueHealth Grant.

Blue Cross has awarded more than $100,000 in BlueHealth Grants to nine organizations in Greater Nebraska this year. Said Celann LaGreca, vice president of community investment at Blue Cross: “We recognize UNK and all of our grant recipients for their innovation, inspiration and commitment to building healthier communities.”