Challenge Grant winners honored at BCBSLAF dinner in Baton Rouge
BCBSLAF Executive Director Christy Reeves and Board Chairman Dr. Richard Atkins welcome Grant Challenge winners at our celebration dinner Wednesday night.
What an honor it was to spend an evening with our 12 Grant Challenge award winners last Wednesday night, pausing a moment over a good meal (thank you Juban’s in Baton Rouge) to celebrate all the amazing work to come. And what a pleasure it was to see how excited our program leaders are to kick-off healthy living initiatives in their communities. Listening to your updates the following day — hearing about the new parks, nutrition education programs, community activities, farmer’s markets, and so much more to come — was truly heart-warming. Thanks for using the $27 million in grant money and matching funds in such innovative ways.
But the gathering was more than just a meet-n-greet. It was also an opportunity for our grant winners to share their ideas, learning how their joint projects fit together. The overall effect will be a multi-pronged approach toward combating our state’s biggest health challenges: nutritional education, healthy food access, physical fitness opportunities.
“Do you see how all of your projects will compliment each other,” BCBSLAF Executive Director Christy Reeves asked the group following their individual presentations. She later emphasized the point, saying, “We want everyone to learn from each other and see what ideas each group has developed for improving health and wellness for their community — and then borrow from that expertise. Literally steal your neighbor’s best ideas and use it in your own way. The hope is to make this a starting point, then keep creating healthy initiatives that grow and have a lasting impact.”
Cynthia Cockerham, with the Live Lively LaSalle project, further explained, “It was so interesting how all of our projects tied together and to see what expertise other people brought to the table. Here in Jena, we have a very rural perspective on things. But even projects in larger cities, I can see how we’re all working in ways that will build on each other.”
But as she left the gatherings, Cockerham told us that it wasn’t just the ideas that moved her. “It’s also the passion,” she said. ” People have such passion for their projects. They are all in this for the community good and community change. And the passion behind it all is very motivating.”
The Challenge initiatives promise to revolutionize communities across the state of Louisiana, from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, LaSalle and Shreveport and beyond. In the words of Mathew Schwarzman, who oversees the New Orleans based grant project Generation K, “This is a game changer for our community.”
Indeed, it is. And we thank you for partnering with us to make it all happen.