The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation selected Rexburg for its Community Transformation Grant. The grant is worth up to $250,000 and the city will receive it over the next three years.
“This grant is awarded each year to communities who demonstrate a community-wide focus on creating, improving and fostering healthy and active lifestyles in youth, specifically through active living and healthy eating,” according to a press release from the city of Rexburg.
The grant is also known as the “high-five grant,” and it is in place to help with projects aimed at improving the health of youth.
Daniel Torres, who is an assistant economic developer for Rexburg, said the application for the grant focused primarily on working with the community to build healthy habits and lifestyles with the hope that it helps provide an environment for a healthy and thriving community.
Torres said the entire community is to thank for the success of bringing this grant to the city.
“It was a great collaboration between the city, Madison School District and the hospital,” Torres said. “We are honestly grateful for everyone. It was really a community-wide effort by not just the city entities but also the people going out of their way as citizens to help out.”
For the next six to nine months, the Blue Cross in conjunction with the city will do a research done to identify city health statistics, community activity and their opinions of what to do with the grant. Once those studies are concluded, the focus will shift to potential projects to implement in the city.
Torres said the committee of Rexburg is focused on finding cities that are engaged and concerned about building healthy communities, as well as communities who could benefit from the donation.
Torres said the city, in conjunction with the hospital and school district, took a three-person panel on a tour of Rexburg, where they had the opportunity to see some of the after school programs, the Madison Cares program, the Zone and some of the recreation programs the city provides. The panel also got to experience a “high- five-a-thon” at Burton Elementary school put on by their PTO President and faculty.
Torres said the city put an emphasis on providing places for children of the school district and those in the community to remain active even in the winter months.
Shelby Henrick, a Rexburg resident, said she has a daughter who will be attending school in Madison School District in the near future. She said she is very happy with the decision to focus on healthy living and hopes the schools will place their focus on bringing that attitude to the children of Rexburg.
“I want my daughter to grow up somewhere that there is a focus on being healthy,” Henrick said. “I have the opportunity to set the example in my home, but it is so crucial that at school they are setting the same example. I hope she grows up thinking that being healthy is cool, and the city can accommodate that lifestyle.”
Torres said BYU-Idaho students should be excited about the grant. He said the money can be used to help areas that everyone in the city, including college students, use, such as bike and walking paths, parks, and recreation centers.
Leah Judd, a junior studying accounting, said she has two children who have attended Kennedy Elementary for the last three years. She said she is happy the city took the initiative to reach out to The Blue Cross Foundation, put a focus on the health of the community and are willing and prepared to do something about it.
“I put my kids in extracurricular activities, but during the winter, it seems like the kids get really cooped up,” Judd said. “It would be great to implement indoor programs that keep kids moving during the winter.”
Judd said she hopes the grant helps teach the youth of the community to live healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally. She said she hopes teaching her children those things in their youth can help establish healthy patterns throughout their lives.