Greensburg was one of four cities in Kansas to earn a BlueCHIP® Award from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA).

Greensburg was one of four cities in Kansas to earn a BlueCHIP® Award from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA).

On Tuesday, winners were announced during a luncheon at the 2013 KRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center in Manhattan. In winning a BlueCHIP award, Great Bend, Greensburg, Lawrence and Wichita each received a check for $2,500 intended to assist residents in continuing their efforts to improve the health of their communities.

In its third year, BlueCHIP is a community health improvement program created to recognize and reward Kansas communities who encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events. Previous winning communities were Grinnell, Hutchinson and Lawrence in 2011; and, Derby, Manhattan, Parsons and Salina in 2012.

“The efforts of the four winning communities were impressive with regards to the scope of programs that each has created for their respective communities,” said Marlou Wegener, BCBSKS manager of community relations. "Numerous organizations in each community are successfully working together to address the health needs of residents of all ages, and are striving to involve community members to achieve systemic changes that will ultimately lead to healthier communities and a healthier Kansas.”

Doug Vance, executive director of KRPA, said Great Bend, Greensburg, Lawrence and Wichita are setting an example for other Kansas cities and towns across the state.

“Our BlueCHIP Award winners represent communities that have made a strong and meaningful commitment in providing healthy lifestyle opportunities for all of their citizens,” Vance said. “They are making quality of life a priority in their communities and setting an important example for others around the state. Every community that has residents working together on initiatives to support increased physical activities, healthy food opportunities and clean air is to be commended.”

The BlueCHIP selection committee was comprised of representatives from Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Healthy Schools, KRPA and BCBSKS. The committee picked two winners from each of the following categories: small (population of 30,000 and under) and large (population of 30,001 and more).

Small Community (pop. of 30,000 or under) – Greensburg, Kiowa County

Nominated by: Robert Dixson, City of Greensburg

Kiowa County and the City of Greensburg are not unique when it comes to facing the health challenges of a population that is overweight or obese. What is unique is that the area faces added mental and physical health-related concerns and a dramatically changing demographic since the EF5 tornado that destroyed much of Greensburg in May 2007.

The challenge is to increase the level of physical activity and the healthy eating habits of their youthful population while decreasing the potential for secondary health issues in the future. Healthy lifestyles, healthy diets and physical activity are key components to the physical and emotional well-being of the community as it continues to recover from the tornado.

The planning and rebuilding process provided the opportunity to plan and create a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities and other amenities that the community identified. Due to the realignment of U.S. 54, Davis Park is being relocated, and will include baseball fields, playgrounds, swimming pool, tennis courts and general park amenities.

To combat childhood obesity, the Kiowa County Health Department and Safe Kids Coalition have partnered to focus on physical activity and healthy snacks for children in second through fourth grade in the two school districts in Kiowa County. The six-week program encourages different types of indoor physical activities that students can do at home, and provides healthy snacks for the classroom or to take home.

Leaders in Greensburg plan to use their BlueCHIP award grant on the relocation of Davis Park, allowing for the addition of amenities to the park that will assist in the goal of Greensburg being a walkable and bikeable community.

Partner organizations are USD 422, Kiowa County Schools, Kiowa County Health Department, Kiowa County Memorial Hospital and Greensburg Recreation Commission.