BikeWalkKC receives Aetna Foundation Grant

Partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City to improve community health in Northeast KCMO

BikeWalkKC has been selected as a grantee in the Aetna Foundation’s Cultivating Healthy Communities program and was awarded a $75,000 community grant to work in partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City to implement evidence-based youth education programming and hands-on built environment interventions to improve community health.

The Cultivating Healthy Communities program awarded over $2 million in grants to 25 nonprofit organizations in 14 states to advance the Aetna Foundation’s mission to improve health at the local level (click here to read their press release). Grantees are working on projects that will address social determinants of health such as improving access to healthy foods, promoting biking and physical activity, and reducing exposure to air and water contaminants. The grantees were chosen based on the strength of their strategies to improve the health of their communities in at least one of five domains: healthy behaviors, community safety, built environment, social/economic factors and environmental exposures.

BikeWalkKC will work with the residents and community/neighborhood organizations of Northeast Kansas City and our evaluation partners, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, to deliver an 18-month program comprised of evidence-based youth education programming and hands-on built environment interventions to improve community health. These activities will improve awareness, skills, confidence, and motivation in participants to increase the number of residents walking and biking in Northeast Kansas City. Furthermore, it will increase resident engagement in removing environmental barriers to walking and biking in Northeast Kansas City. Finally, the project will enable BikeWalkKC to deploy these programs using new approaches with new tools to evaluate their effectiveness in a way that has not previously been possible. The project comes at a critical time: with high rates of preventable diseases, low rates of biking and walking, and an under-resourced built environment, the Northeast is well-situated to engage in and benefit from sustainable supports for healthy, active living.

“We are thrilled to receive such strong support for our work from the Aetna Foundation. This grant will enable us to lay the groundwork for more effective programming, increased community partnerships, and improved evaluation across the entire region in the future,” says Maggie Priesmeyer, BikeWalkKC director of programs and project lead.

“The Aetna Foundation is committed to addressing the social determinants of health in order to reduce health disparities,” said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation. “By identifying community-specific challenges, and unique ways to combat them, this year’s grantees are a shining example of organizations who strive to make a measurable and positive local health impact. We are honored to contribute towards the great work they are doing in pursuit of health equity.”

This funding addresses the need to improve opportunities for all Americans—regardless of income, education or ethnic background—to take an active role in living healthier lives. For more information on the Cultivating Healthy Communities program visit, visit www.aetnafoundation.org.

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About the Aetna Foundation

The Aetna Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna (NYSE:AET). As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who volunteered 430,000 hours in 2016 alone. For more information, visit www.aetna-foundation.org.

About BikeWalkKC

BikeWalkKC’s mission is to redefine our streets as places for people to build a culture of active living. Since our inception less than a decade ago, BikeWalkKC has become the leader for improving walking and bicycling in greater Kansas City. Through advocacy, education, the Kansas City BCycle program, and congregation events, we support regional partners and clients in creating a community that is barrier free, has complete biking and walking access, and has a connected culture of active transportation and active lifestyles. For more information, visit www.bikewalkkc.org.

About Children’s Mercy Kansas City

Founded in 1897, Children’s Mercy is one of the nation’s top pediatric medical centers. With not-for-profit hospitals in Missouri and Kansas, and numerous specialty clinics in both states, Children’s Mercy provides the highest level of care for children from birth through the age of 21. Its faculty of more than 700 pediatric subspecialists and researchers across more than 40 subspecialties are actively involved in clinical care, pediatric research, and educating the next generation of pediatric subspecialists. Thanks to generous philanthropic and volunteer support, Children’s Mercy provides medical care to every child who passes through its doors, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. For more information, visit www.childrensmercy.org.

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