OWG: We have enjoyed a great partnership with BlueCross BlueShield of Texas for nearly 6 years now. What do you think makes the collaboration so successful?
Debbie: BlueCross BlueShield of Texas (BCBSTX) has a strategic mission to improve the health of its communities as well as its members. In 2006, BCBSTX identified OWG as an excellent opportunity to collaborate with a comprehensive, scientifically-proven program that reduces incidence of childhood obesity in order to affect and promote child wellness.
The flexibility of the OWG program encourages new partnerships and collaborations that can be tailored to the needs of a specific community or group. The ability to leverage support by working with the land grant universities and to partner with the USDA program is truly innovative.
OWG: What is your position with BlueCross BlueShield of Texas and what are some of your responsibilities?
Debbie: My position title is Community Affairs Representative and I serve as the state coordinator for our employee volunteer program. I also manage our participation in corporate sponsored and community events.
OWG: The students in Texas are lucky to have the BlueCross BlueShield of Texas Blue Bear mascot attend some of their OrganWise Guys school assemblies. Can you tell us more about Blue Bear and some other things that he does around the state of Texas?
Debbie: As the health and wellness ambassador for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Blue Bear promotes healthier practices among Texans, particularly among young children. Blue Bear’s community outreach efforts include visits to children’s hospitals, community events, charitable events, and immunization outreach events with the Caring for Children Foundation of Texas’ Care Van Program.
OWG: Through social media outlets, we have seen pictures of playgrounds being built around the state of Texas. Can you share with us more details of this program?
Debbie: Today’s kids spend less time playing outside than any previous generation in part because only 1-in-5 children live within walking distance of a park or playground. For this reason, we’ve teamed up with KaBOOM! to build five new playgrounds in Texas during 2011. This playground project is part of “Healthy Kids, Healthy Families,” a three-year initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of children through community investments by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. “Healthy Kids, Healthy Families” invests in non-profit organizations that encourage health education, promote physical activity, prevent and manage disease, and support safe environments for children. Playgrounds have been built this year in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Dallas and Abilene.We are very honored to be partnered with great people like Debbie and organizations like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to change give kids and families opportunities for a healthy life!