Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Initiative Strives to Make Communities More Accessible to Physical Activity

Organizations across the state will create temporary projects that aim to build support for long-term community changes, funded by the Center for Prevention.

EAGAN, MINN. (July 11, 2016) – While Minnesota is frequently cited as one of the healthiest states in the country, many communities in our state lack the amenities and infrastructure to support and encourage walking, biking and other healthy activities. This means that many Minnesotans often don’t have opportunities to be physically active in their daily lives.

To help make communities more open to physical activity, the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is awarding funding to 12 community organizations across the state. This funding will help those organizations implement temporary, low-cost projects to illustrate how small changes to surroundings can make it easier for people to be physically active. These projects also aim to build support for wider community changes over time by giving people opportunities to experience their neighborhoods in a new way.    

The 12 organizations that have been awarded financial and technical assistance from the Center for Prevention include: 

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission will install a temporary protected bike lane in Duluth’s central business district in an effort to make the streets more bikeable. 

City of North St. Paul will install a temporary bike lane and sidewalk to show how the city’s “living streets” policy can connect the community and encourage community members to be more physically active. 

City of Spring Grove Parks Department will create three temporary walking paths near city parks and the swim center, to encourage the city to establish permanent paths and make Spring Grove more walkable.

Clay County Public Health will add a temporary protected bike lane on Center Avenue to encourage physical activity and connectivity between Fargo and Moorhead.

Friends of the Finland Community will encourage all members of the community to be more physically active by temporarily transforming the town’s existing tennis court into a multi-use space.

Lyndale Neighborhood Association will create a temporary green space near Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, to highlight the need for permanent green space in the neighborhood and to encourage people to walk, bike, or roll to the area.

Metro Blooms will demonstrate how bioswales capture stormwater, which can improve the look of neighborhoods, improve the life expectancy of trees, encourage pedestrian traffic and enable residents to play a role in building a resilient community.

Mississippi Watershed Management Organization will explore ways to revive the Lincoln School Playground property, which would encourage connections in the community and create opportunities for children to learn and play.

Project FINE will host summer events featuring Tuj Lub (a traditional Hmong spinning game) throughout Winona, which hopes to inspire physical activity, curiosity about the Hmong culture and a stronger sense of community.

Southside Greenway Council will engage with Minneapolis neighborhoods to demonstrate the value of the proposed Southside Greenway, which would connect communities along the route from Downtown to South Minneapolis and be a gateway for safe bike and pedestrian travel.

Transit for Livable Communities will, with the Friendly Streets Initiative, encourage pedestrian travel, sidewalk usage and community connections by temporarily converting two traditional parking spaces in St. Paul into parklets.

Urban Oasis will install garden planters throughout the East 7th Street corridor in an effort to increase the walkability of the area and honor the diverse food traditions of St. Paul’s East Side.

“Blue Cross is proud to continue supporting organizations across the state that share our commitment to addressing health inequities, including those that limit people’s opportunities to be physically active,” said Janelle Waldock, vice president of community health and health equity at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, who leads the organization’s Center for Prevention. “We know that where we live, work, learn and play have a substantial impact on our health, including our opportunities to be physically active. We hope our funding supports these organizations’ efforts to gain public support toward long-term, permanent community change.”  

Active Places demonstration projects were selected through a competitive process. Preference was given to projects that were designed to increase opportunities for all community members to be physically active, especially those who typically face barriers to doing so.

About the Center for Prevention

The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross’ historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, they collaborate with organizations statewide to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state. Visit for more information.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (, 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.

Media Contacts
  • Making Healthy Choices Possible for All Minnesotans

    The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota tackles the leading causes of preventable disease -- tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating -- to increase health equity, transform communities and create a healthier state.