Kaiser Permanente today announced an increased focus on creating a greater culture of health and wellness in Colorado schools. As part of the health plan’s new national campaign, Thriving Schools: A Partnership for Healthy Students, Staff and Teachers, Kaiser Permanente seeks to make good health a part of every day life in all schools. To kick off this campaign, Kaiser Permanente has awarded two grants totaling more than $1.25 million to the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Foundation and Playworks Denver, in addition to its recent $3 million investment to the Colorado Legacy Foundation.
Kaiser Permanente will fund the DPS Foundation with a $600,000 three-year grant to support the DPS Health Agenda 2015. The focus of the funding will be on addressing three goals of the five-year plan including: the expansion of resources and communication strategies to enroll 5,679 students into Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus health insurance plans; comprehensive staff wellness programs for all DPS school employees; and initiating “change projects” that engage students in improving their health. This grant directly addresses health factors and behaviors that influence school performance and academic achievement, which ultimately shape future opportunities for Colorado students.
“The DPS Foundation is extremely grateful for partners like Kaiser Permanente working alongside us to support DPS students and employees,” said Kristin Heath Colon, president and CEO of the DPS Foundation. “Healthy students do better in school and healthy employees are productive employees. Kaiser Permanente’s prioritization of preventive care to maximize health very much aligns with DPS’ strategies to ensure students and employees alike have the health and wellness support they need so that every child succeeds.”
In addition, over the next three years, Kaiser Permanente will also provide $659,600 in grant funding to Playworks Denver. Playworks’ curriculum features daily recess and activity programs, youth leadership initiatives, after school programs, developmental sports leagues and educator training programs on the importance of play in 250 low-income schools nationwide. The organization first received funding from Kaiser Permanente in 2010 to support its efforts at AXL Academy in Aurora. This new funding will be used to expand Playworks programming to 40 low-income schools and increase its school and community training program.
“Kaiser Permanente works to advance health in Colorado school communities through a variety of efforts,” said Donna Lynne, DrPH, president of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “We understand that educators are trying to do more with less. Thriving Schools represents a deeper commitment to better school health. We know that healthy students and staff are less likely to miss school and more likely to help create academically and financially successful schools.”
Last month, Kaiser Permanente announced a $3 million investment to the Colorado Legacy Foundation to develop the statewide School Health Policy and Practice Data Collection Program. This streamlined, online program will be leveraged to inform decisions at the local, district and state levels about activities that promote health and academic success in different learning environments.
Kaiser Permanente Colorado currently delivers care to more than 90,000 school-age children and 30,000 teachers and staff who spend the majority of each day on a school campus. The health plan has supported Colorado schools and school districts for more than 25 years to improve healthy eating, physical activity and school climates. These new initiatives will deepen and expand such established partnerships and programs as Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Programs, which has reached more than 2.5 million Coloradans through dynamic, free health education theater performances since 1986. Kaiser Permanente is also a founding funder and continued supporter of LiveWell Colorado’s school-based health initiatives.
Thriving Schools, launched nationally by Kaiser Permanente in February 2013, engages the entire school community to champion change by incorporating evidence-based, community health improvement practices. This multi-year campaign includes a website with free, ready-to-use tools and resources for schools. The website provides a place to share ideas and success stories, as well as spark creative innovation and change that can strengthen the health and well-being of schools.
All over Colorado, schools are under pressure to achieve. The Institute of Medicine recently identified the need to strengthen schools as the “heart of health.” (pdf) Better health can reduce discipline problems, increase attendance and improve attitudes about school.
Colorado schools can motivate their students, parents and staff to get moving right away by signing up for Kaiser Permanente’s Fire Up Your Feet Program. Participating schools will receive tips on how to increase daily physical activity at www.FireUpYourFeet.org. They can also compete to win Challenge Awards of up to $3,000 based on the amount of physical activity tracked from April 15 to May 15, 2013. Awards may be used for new gym and playground equipment or programs to help kids become more active.
Learn more about Thriving Schools at thrivingschools.kaiserpermanente.org or @thrivingschools on Twitter. Visit www.kp.org/communitybenefit to learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s community benefit programs.
About Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, proudly working to improve the lives and health of Colorado residents for more than 40 years. Kaiser Permanente Colorado provides comprehensive health care services to more than 538,000 members through 26 medical offices and a network of affiliated hospitals and physicians. The health plan was named “Highest in Member Satisfaction” among Commercial Health Plans by J.D. Power and Associates for the sixth straight year. Kaiser Permanente was recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as the top-ranked commercial health plan in Colorado, No. 6 in the nation and the second ranked Medicare plan in the U.S. Kaiser Permanente was also recently recognized as a 2012 Hypertension Champion by Million Hearts™. In 2011, Kaiser Permanente proudly directed more than $90 million to community benefit programs to improve the health of all Coloradans. For more Kaiser Permanente news, visit kp.org/newscenter or follow us on twitter @kpcolorado or facebook.com/kpcolorado.