Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® Supports Erie House Wellness Initiatives

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has provided a $75,000 grant to support the Health and Leadership program at Erie Neighborhood House for the next 12 months.

Awarded through the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) initiative, the grant will help provide nutrition education and promote wellbeing for children and families in the community.

“We value our partnership with BCBSIL,” says Erie House executive director Kirstin Chernawsky. “This grant empowers us to continue offering a variety of wellness initiatives to our participants and live more fully into our mission as an organization.”

“When a corporate partner like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois works with a community organization to achieve results, everyone benefits,” says Chernawsky.

Erie House Health and Leadership program director Micaella Verro believes firmly in the impact her program’s Super H (ages 5-12) and Super H-itos (ages 2-5) initiatives are making on students.

“We know that obesity, heart disease, and diabetes disproportionately impact the Latino community,” says Verro. “Our Super H initiative interrupts that inequity by focusing on the entire family in a culturally competent way.”

Last year, the Health and Leadership program reached 236 students ages 2-12 with nutrition education. The program also managed a summer garden with the agency’s School-Age program in which children grew fruits and vegetables and learned how to prepare healthy snacks for themselves and their families.

Furthermore, the program provides cooking classes and other education opportunities for adults in the community to help reinforce the wellness initiatives.

“When you demystify nutrition and break health into a serious of small, manageable choices,” says the program’s assistant director, Jane Chung, “participants learn that they can make changes for themselves, their families, and the Latino community more broadly.”

HKHF has impacted nearly 3 million children since its inception in 2011. It is now an integral part of BCBS’s ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of children and families across the state.


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