Greater Minnesota Using Unconventional Tactics to Transform Community Health
EAGAN, Minn., Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In many Greater Minnesota communities, there are significant barriers to achieving good health, and these barriers are often experienced most by an increasingly diverse and aging population. Often the solutions to overcoming these barriers lie within the communities themselves, but the idea of organizing a community effort could be overwhelming to someone who has limited experience in that area.
Addressing these barriers requires innovative solutions. Solutions like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s “Healthy Together Willmar” initiative, which launched in 2016. The most recent effort of this initiative is providing funding support to ChangeX, an online platform that offers community members proven ideas for effecting positive social change. Partnering with ChangeX is another way Blue Cross furthers its commitment of advancing health equity – by giving all Minnesotans access to the resources they need to live the healthiest lives possible.
“Helping create a healthier Willmar for all will benefit everyone in the community,” said Sarah Senseman, director of community initiatives at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “We know that Willmar has experienced, and continues to experience, significant change, and that many people in the community face barriers to achieving good health. The ChangeX partnership will help bring together people who are working to make their communities healthier – creating community connections and lessening the isolation that many people face.”
ChangeX uses its platform to connect local community leaders to tools and resources of proven, impactful ideas. This results in things like Welcome Dinners, hosted by longtime residents as a way to welcome recent immigrants in the community, or Sambusa Sundays, community gatherings that bring people of all backgrounds together, to build bridges and overcome division.
“In communities across Minnesota, people come from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences,” said Jen Aspengren, ChangeX’s Minnesota director. “Bringing people together can be overwhelming if you’ve never organized a community event. By providing community members the tools to take action, ChangeX can have a significant impact on community health and well-being — helping everyone feel like they belong.”
The launch of ChangeX is the latest component of Blue Cross’ “Healthy Together Willmar” initiative, a multi-year effort to improve the health of all Willmar community members. Through this initiative, Blue Cross is also in the process of launching funding and technical support to over a dozen projects proposed by the community through the Idea Fund, an effort of the Willmar Community Table. The Community Table is comprised of diverse residents who have firsthand experience facing barriers to health and who are working together to surface and test bold new ideas to create a healthier Willmar for all.
“We are very excited about the upcoming launch of the Idea Fund projects,” said Annette Derouin, member of the Willmar Community Table. “Through the Idea Fund process, we have seen firsthand our community’s passion around building community health and health equity. These Idea Fund projects will work to directly address some of the barriers to health that our community is facing.”
More information about the Idea Fund and Blue Cross’ partnership with ChangeX can be found at HealthyTogetherWillmar.org
ChangeX is a platform of proven innovations from across the world. Its mission is to build community wellbeing by unleashing the potential of changemakers everywhere. Based in Minneapolis and Dublin, ChangeX is a small team of entrepreneurs passionate about making change easy. The platform provides ideas for anyone who wants to strengthen their communities and the support needed to get these ideas up and running.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com), with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.
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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota