Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, American Cancer Society recognize Blues Community Challenge 2013 Body & Soul wellness initiative
Healthy competition increases participation in the African-American and faith-based communities, with 13 Grand Rapids area churches completing the 2013 challenge
August 29, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Thirteen churches from 27 Grand Rapids area faith-based institutions recently spent 14 weeks making healthier food choices and increasing their physical activity in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s fourth annual Blues' Community Challenge, in partnership with the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 2013 Body & Soul program. A culmination ceremony for the 2013 Grand Rapids Body & Soul and the Blues' Community Challenge winners was held on Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute Rhythm Run at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Grand Rapids where New Hope Baptist Church was named the grand prize winner, in addition to the announcement of the following awards:
Large Church Size Category Winners (400-999 regularly participating adults):
- New Hope Baptist Church - First place
- Truelight Baptist Church - Second place
- Brown Hutcherson Ministries - Third place
Medium Church Size Category Winners (150-399 regularly participating adults):
- St. Luke AME Zion - First place
- Grace for the Nations - Second place
- Tabernacle Community Church – Third place
Small Church Size Category Winners (50-149 regularly participating adults):
- Davis Memorial Church of God in Christ (COGIC) - First place
- Earnest Prayer Ministries - Second Place
- New Life Tabernacle (COGIC) - Third place
The Blues Community Challenge, an incentive-based health and wellness competition, encouraged members of primarily African-American faith communities to participate in efforts to adopt healthier lifestyles in a competition to determine which congregation could log the most miles of physical activity throughout the duration of the challenge. The top three churches in each category, based on congregation size (as determined by a Calvin College Kent County congregations study (PDF)), that participated in the program received grants ranging from $500 to $1,250, with one, grand prize winner receiving an additional $2,500, from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to support health and wellness programs within their congregations.
"We were extremely impressed by the dedication and the commitment of all 13 churches that participated in the Blues Community Challenge, in partnership with the Body & Soul program," said Cle Jackson, senior community liaison for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. "It’s an honor to be part of a program that encourages people to get active and either begin or expand upon their healthy lifestyle behaviors. It’s also inspiring to hear of so many great health outcomes for the individual participants. We look forward to seeing these congregations keep up the great work and continue their healthy habits in the months and years to come."
The ACS' Body & Soul program reinforces the importance of a healthy diet in decreasing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. The program combines pastoral leadership, educational activities and a church environment to help congregations make healthier nutrition choices and take the necessary steps to ensure a healthier future. This year's program continued to address health disparities in diverse communities, while also allowing churches beyond the African-American, faith-based community to participate, expanding in 2013 to include the American Diabetes Association.
Body & Soul churches enrolled in the Blues' Community Challenge gained points for physical activity by completing a community partner checklist of 15 activities that offered various wellness opportunities to enhance healthy living practices, included tracking of physical activity through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Blues’ Walking Works® tracking tool. To fulfill the requirements of the competition, members of each congregation logged their daily physical activity through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Blues WalkingWorks™ online tracking tool, with the goal of being the team whose members had the highest average miles achieved per team. This year, more than 660 church members competed in the challenge, an increase from the 589 participants in the 2012 program.
The Blues Community Challenge program is an extension of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s ongoing commitment to reducing health disparities in diverse communities and underscoring the importance of prevention. According to the ACS, African-Americans are far more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial group and tend to have lower-than-recommended rates of physical activity. Approximately 94,540 new cancer cases in African-American men and 82,080 new cancer cases in African-American women are expected to be diagnosed in 2013. African-Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival following diagnosis for most cancers of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. The ACS also estimates that nearly one-third of the cancer deaths that occur in the U.S. each year are due to poor nutrition and physical inactivity, including excess weight. African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network are nonprofit corporations and independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more company information, visit www.bcbsm.com.