Teams from 11 Michigan-based, Native American tribal communities spent the past nine weeks getting physically active in Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s fourth-annual Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge. The incentive-based, wellness competition engaged members of Michigan’s federally-recognized tribal communities and Native American support organizations in a competition to determine which team could log the most miles of physical activity throughout the duration of the challenge. Tribal communities completing the challenge received grants from Blue Cross to support health and wellness programs in their communities. The Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge program began in 2012 with the goal of increasing physical activity among Michigan’s tribal communities to help improve overall health status and decrease health risks associated with obesity and inactivity. This year the Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge introduced a new children’s health component, the #MIKidsCan Tribe to Tribe Marathon, which encouraged participating kids to track 25.2 miles of physical activity over the same nine-week period. Competing kids could finish the last mile (to reach the 26.2 miles required for a marathon) on their own or at the one-mile run at the Michigan Indian Family Olympics. Fifty-six children completed the #MIKidsCan Tribe to Tribe Marathon, many of which expressed excitement to continue on with their physical activity after the challenge. To fulfill the requirements of the competition, members of each team logged their daily physical activity through the Blue Cross WalkingWorks © online tracking tool, with the goal of being the team whose members had the highest average miles achieved per participant. This year, more than 600 tribal members registered for the challenge, marking the highest participation levels in the contest’s history. At the end of the challenge, more than 91,000 miles were logged by the participants, the equivalent of 3,486 completed marathons. The celebration and announcement ceremony for the Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge winners was held at the 28th annual Michigan Indian Family Olympics on July 17 in Shepherd, Michigan. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Community, of Mt. Pleasant, was declared the winning tribe, logging the highest number of miles of physical activity among all teams. Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians (Harbor Springs) and Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi (Fulton) placed second and third, respectively, in the competition. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan congratulates all 11 tribes that completed the 2015 Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge,” said Shelley DuFort, senior community liaison for Blue Cross. “It’s great to see so many members of Michigan’s tribal communities engaged in the program and making commitments to get active and continue on their journey toward better health.” Additional participating tribes were awarded grants through the program, including (in order of their ranking): Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish (Gun Lake), American Indian Health and Family Services (a Native American service and support agency out of Detroit), Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (Baraga), Pokagon Band Potawatomi (Dowagiac), Bay Mills Indian Community (Brimley), Hannahville Indian Community (Wilson), Little River Band (Manistee) and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa (Traverse City). The Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge program is an extension of Blue Cross’ ongoing commitment to reducing health disparities in diverse communities. According to the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH), Native American populations have higher incidences of cardiovascular disease, obesity, respiratory issues, HIV/AIDS, mental health concerns and substance abuse than the general population. All 11 tribal communities that completed the 2015 Tribe to Tribe Blues Community Challenge received grants from Blue Cross to support health and wellness programs in their communities. The total grant funding offered for the program was $14,000, and each tribe completing the challenge received a portion of that amount, ranging from $500-$3,000, with higher performing teams receiving larger grants. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.4 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.
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