Wellness Grants Support Kearney Health and Fitness Initiatives

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska's Rob Trebilcock: "The one thing I've noticed -- we've been in this community for a few different years now, and one of the things that is prevalent and evident here is that there is a desire to have a healthy environment, and there is always a wellness component."

One might not realize it, looking at children playing in the park, but Kearney needs -- and is getting -- financial support toward improving citizen fitness, especially among the young.

The Wellness Grants awarded at Kearney's Harmon Park by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska will assist those whose work seeks to instill life-long health and fitness habits.

Megan Adkins of UNK and Dana Welsh of Kearney's Good Samaritan Hospital picked up grant checks for around $10,000 each to support increased physical education activities in Kearney public schools, and for a tobacco cessation and prevention education program.

Megan Adkins: "What the grant is doing is providing funding so we can have physical activity every day for a lower socioeconomic school. And in order for this to work, we need the funds to go along with that."

Yes, Kearney school children already have physical education, but some schools could use more.

Kearney Public Schools' School Nurse Julene Lesher: "It's on the other days that this physical acitivity specialist, and that's where the grant money comes in, will be used for, so that the kids actually will have P.E., or physical activity, scheduled every single school day."

Tobacco cessation and prevention also won a grant.

Kearney Good Samaritan Hospital's Dana Welsh: "For young male adults we have a higher than national average of use of spit tobacco, so we feel like we really need to educate our youth and hopefully prevent them from even starting that habit. I think people really do focus on smoking and they don't realize that spit tobacco is just as harmful, and we do have a pretty high use here in Buffalo County."