Humana, KaBOOM! to build 8 more playgrounds this fall

Volunteers build a KaBOOM! playground last fall in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Volunteers build a KaBOOM! playground last fall in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Humana and nonprofit KaBOOM! launch their fourth fall playground tour on September 20 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The multigenerational playground in Harrisburg will be the first of eight that will be built across the country in the next eight weeks. Humana, the Humana Foundation and KaBOOM! will have worked together to build more than 50 playgrounds by the end of 2014.

“These playgrounds allow us to promote healthy living in cities across the country. We are proud of our partnership with KaBOOM! and look forward to another successful season of builds,” said Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard. “It’s important to us to make it easy for people to achieve their best health – kids and adults alike.”

The playgrounds, which feature traditional kid-friendly equipment as well as walking paths and fitness stations for adults, are built in only six hours by volunteers and create a space for families and communities to gather to enjoy fun, healthy activity.

“The playground in my neighborhood has really improved the quality of life for many people who live at Gateway Park,” said Marcus French, a Gateway Park resident in Portland, Oregon, where Humana and KaBOOM! teamed up on a playground in the fall of 2012. “Now, everyone living at Gateway Park has a great place to gather together.”

In addition to Harrisburg, playgrounds will be built in the following cities this fall:

  • Mobile, Alabama on September 27
  • Jackson, Mississippi on October 4
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa on October 11
  • Kansas City, Missouri on October 18
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 25
  • Tucson, Arizona on November 1
  •  Riverside, California on November 8

Related links:

Starting Right, Now: Giving teens a home and hope for the future

(Note: This is the first in a series of videos and articles profiling the three winners of this year’s $350,000 Humana Communities Benefit grants.)

La’Quita Carter led the hectic life of a typical high school student: classes, part-time job, sports, social activities. At the end of a busy day, her classmates headed home to their families and a good night’s sleep in their own comfortable beds. La’Quita looked for a safe place to park her car where she would spend the night, hoping she would come to no harm and no one would discover her secret: She was homeless and alone.

La'Quita Carter stands next to her high school graduation gown, which she said she would donate to a teen in need to use next year. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

La’Quita Carter stands next to her high school graduation gown, which she said she would donate to a teen in need to use next year. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

One cold night as she crawled into the back of her car to sleep, she knew she had to talk to someone. She could no longer face scary nights alone in a car and worry about getting to school early enough to freshen up in a bathroom before class. She shared her secret with her school counselor the next day, but instead of causing more problems as she had feared, it opened the door to a better life, giving her hope, a home and a reason to believe that anything is possible.

Her counselor recommended she participate in Starting Right, Now, a Tampa, Florida, nonprofit program that is helping a growing number of homeless families and children end a cycle of poverty, homelessness and hopelessness. The nonprofit, one of this year’s three winners of a $350,000 Humana Communities Benefit grant, goes beyond providing temporary shelter and temporary solutions. Its goal is to end homelessness, one child at a time, by taking a holistic and personalized approach that helps young people with every need, both immediate and in the future. The program emphasizes education, empowerment, motivation, responsibility, stability and community.

La’Quita, a 19-year-old college student majoring in sports medicine, faced an uphill climb from birth. Her mother was only 15 when La’Quita was born and had to drop out of high school. The family struggled financially and emotionally, and the strain eventually became too much for La’Quita, who left home while still in high school.

“I was down but motivated,” she said. “My mom didn’t finish high school, and I didn’t want to be that way. I wanted to end the cycle. I knew it would get better. A lot of people doubted me – even my own mom at one time, but I wanted to prove them wrong. I stayed focused and knew I would be successful in life.”

She worked long hours on weekends and after classes when she was homeless, but she never stopped studying because she was resilient, determined, loved learning and enjoyed the structure she found at school – and at Starting Right, Now. The nonprofit helps each student find a job, gives them shelter and food, medical and dental care and tutoring. It also teaches financial literacy, helps with college and vocational school applications and assigns a mentor, who becomes an advocate offering daily guidance and, often, a lifelong bond. In return, the student must attend classes, clean his or her room and be committed and dedicated to building a better life.

“There are so many stories in this house,” La’Quita said during a recent interview at the Starting Right, Now property that provides a home for dozens of teens. “Some have had parents die. But they are very strong and are still trying to better themselves. People want to help people who are motivated. Everyone needs help and everyone needs a little extra push sometimes. They get that here. When people come here, they have hope. No excuses. You have everything you need. I’m thankful and blessed.

Jorge Gonzalez said he gained hoped - and a new family - through Starting Right, Now. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

Jorge Gonzalez said he gained hoped – and a new family – through Starting Right, Now. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

Jorge Gonzalez
As a high school student in Tampa, Jorge Gonzalez was working until 1-2 a.m., struggling to pass his classes and living alone in his car.

He had not had contact with his mother for months when he learned that she was in jail. He said he broke down and, while it was a low point in his life, he was determined to be strong, to keep going. He turned to a school counselor, who talked to him about Starting Right, Now. He found a family, a home and the help he needed to change his life.

“Without them, I would not have passed high school,” said Jorge. “It made me feel I was worth it. The people here saw my potential. One day I thought, ‘Wow, I’m worth giving a shot, worth being helped.’”

Jorge said that even though he once thought he didn’t like school, he was still determined to get an associate’s degree and become a veterinary technician. But he said the Starting Right, Now, program has motivated him to pursue a bachelor’s degree and give serious consideration to becoming a veterinarian.

He also credits Tony Lisotta, his mentor, for helping him achieve more than even he thought was possible and to set higher goals.

“He was always there for me,” Jorge said. “He helped me solve problems and find solutions and is definitely a role model of what I want for my future.”

The Starting Right, Now program encourages students to maintain relationships with their parents and other family members, and Jorge has reconnected with his mother, who attended his high school graduation this summer.

“At first, my mom was really depressed about me going into the program because she felt she had failed as a mother… until she saw me graduate,” Jorge said. “Then she showed all emotions except sadness. Seeing her like that made me the happiest person in the world.” He said that at that moment she realized that Starting Right, Now, had given her son an opportunity, given him a future.

Vicki Sokolik, Founder and Executive Director of Starting Right, Now
Vicki Sokolik says an experience staying with her daughter during a long hospitalization years ago woke her to the reality that many people must struggle daily to ensure that their families have the basics in life. She knew she had to help, even if in a small way, even if it was one child or one family. Today, the organization she founded has helped more than 150 formerly homeless youth in Florida’s Hillsborough County find a home and build a foundation for a successful future. Some are the first in their family to graduate from high school and most are the first to graduate from college.

She hopes to increase that number by expanding its Hillsborough County facility and opening another facility in Pinellas County with the $350,000 Humana Communities Benefit grant that her nonprofit recently won.

“Florida has the highest number of unaccompanied youth in the country,” said Sokolik. “There were 9,000 that were counted in the state of Florida. The need is remarkable.”

In addition to providing shelter, food, medical and dental care and tutoring, her program focuses on the long-term future of the students and the future of their children. Its push to pursue higher education is showing amazing results.

“One hundred percent of our kids the past three years have all gone to higher education with scholarships,” she said. “They will be our leaders.”

Gaining stability, structure, a place to live and losing the daily stress of wondering whether you will make it through another day enables the students to focus on their studies and a brighter future. But Sokolik believes that matching the students with a mentor who becomes a part of their daily life is a key to the success of the program. The mentors have daily contact with participants and become an advocate for them. They also take them on regular outings and expose them to new experiences, whether it’s going to a restaurant, taking a shopping trip or attending a play or concert.

“A lot of students have not had a reliable person in their lives,” she said. “It’s empowering to know someone cares and is always there.”

Mentors are asked to make an 18-month commitment to the program, and Sokolik said “they don’t leave and often form lifelong relationships.”

Sokolik said that beyond raising her own two children, Starting Right, Now has been the most rewarding experience in her life. She said that attending every graduation is her reward for giving hope when it might well have been lost forever.

“You may think that working alone as one person, you can’t make a difference,” said Sokolik. “But one person CAN make a difference. Even if you change one life – it’s impactful. Never say never.”

Vicki Sokolik, Founder and Executive Director of Starting Right, Now, (standing) said resiliency and motivation to succeed are two qualities she looks for when interviewing potential program participants, such as Jorge Gonzalez and La'Quita Carter. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

Vicki Sokolik, Founder and Executive Director of Starting Right, Now, (standing) said resiliency and motivation to succeed are two qualities she looks for when interviewing potential program participants, such as Jorge Gonzalez and La’Quita Carter. (Photo and story by Ellen Nason)

Humana CEO joins President Obama, KaBOOM! for National Day of Service and Remembrance projects

Bruce – KaBOOM president 9-11-14

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama joined KaBOOM!, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard and representatives from several national service organizations on September 11 in Washington, D.C. to commemorate this year’s National Day of Service and Remembrance by participating in projects focused on improving the health and well-being of children.

In addition to building a playground at The Inspired Teaching School in Washington, more than 300 KaBOOM! playpacks were assembled and will be donated to DC Homeless Children Playtime Project and Extraordinary Birthday Parties, local nonprofits that are dedicated to providing homeless children with more opportunities for play.

Broussard’s participation in the events resulted from Humana’s partnership with KaBOOM! to build dozens of playgrounds across the country in the last three years as part of its commitment to make it easier for the communities it serves to achieve better health and lifelong well-being. Humana will partner with KaBOOM! to build more playgrounds this fall.

For more information about Thursday’s events, visit the KaBOOM! website.

Humana at Home: Supporting independence with holistic approach to better health

Bruce Weaver had a heart attack hundreds of miles from his North Carolina home a few years ago, but the energetic 75-year-old has fully recovered and is back on the road, spending this summer traveling with his wife, Ruth. He is thankful for everyone who worked with him on his journey to better health: family and friends, his doctors, physical therapists and Lynece Hand, his Humana At Home personal care manager.

Weaver, who is also a diabetic, was contacted by Hand, a registered nurse, soon after his heart attack. He appreciates that she has helped him set and meet goals and motivated him to exercise, but he also treasures the personal, trusting relationship they have developed.

Bruce Weaver holds his dog Abby.

Bruce Weaver holds his dog Abby.

“She is joyful,” said Weaver, who looks forward to her regular calls, even when he is out on the road. “It’s relaxing to talk to her.” Weaver, who now lives in Inverness, Florida, said that he may not always have questions about medications or other aspects of his physical health, but he knows Hand is always ready to listen to any concerns, answer questions and understand.

“Other people who have had a heart attack don’t always have that,” he said. Weaver, who has lost 40 pounds, said he’s feeling great, and his cardiologist recently told him to “keep doing what you’re doing.”

“It is fulfilling to be able to help,” said Hand, who attributes Weaver’s full recovery to the fact that he is actively engaged in improving his health and dedicated to staying active and learning.

Hand believes the Humana At Home program, formerly called Humana Cares/SeniorBridge, is successful in part because of its holistic approach. The care managers take time to learn members’ stories, enabling them to focus on specific areas of concern that could adversely affect their physical and mental health.

Hand said this leads to a more personalized care plan, whether it is health education and coaching, health care provider coordination, in-home visits and safety assessments or caregiver support. As the care managers become more familiar with members’ needs, they also may connect them with social workers or other community resources to help with issues relating to finances, transportation or loneliness.

Humana At Home, which now serves more than 400,000 members nationwide, focuses on those with multiple chronic conditions and those who need help transitioning after being discharged from the hospital. The goal is to keep people living safely and comfortably in their own home.

“It is a holistic approach … it’s just not purely disease management,” said Craig Drablos, Chief of Operations, Humana At Home. “We’re trying to take care of the whole person, the whole self and by doing that, we’re keeping people out of the hospital. We’re seeing that the readmission rate when we do this drops about 40 percent for these people.

“This whole program is designed around achieving lifelong well-being,” said Drablos. “I’m not sure of any other program out there right now that supports the members in the way that we’re supporting our members.”

Lynece Hand is a registered nurse and personal care manager with Humana at Home.

Lynece Hand is a registered nurse and personal care manager with Humana at Home.

Hand works with 205 members, but her contact is mainly telephonic. While that method works for many, some need or prefer in-home visits.

Ernestine Marshall, a retired teacher, has diabetes and multiple sclerosis. She said she is coping with her illnesses better through dietary changes, exercise, ongoing education and gaining confidence in herself. She attributes many of the changes, particularly her growing confidence, to the connection she has with John Webb, a Humana At Home field care manager, who visits her each week at her home in Tampa, Florida.

“I know I can call him if I have any problems,” said Marshall. “It makes me feel better. I even feel important sometimes. I know someone is there.” She said she looks forward to Webb’s weekly visits and knows he’ll either have answers to her questions or find the answers for her.

Marshall also participates in a Healthsense remote monitoring pilot program through Humana At Home. The sensors are placed in key areas of her home to detect movement and help monitor possible problems. “If I fall or can’t move, someone will notice,” she said. “I can stay safely in my home and be comfortable.”

Helping members enhance their health while living safely at home is the goal, said Webb, who looks at the program as a partnership with members because it requires their engagement and willingness to set and work on goals.
Webb said that Marshall is highly motivated and is reaching her goals, such as recently traveling to a family reunion in Atlanta, which was out of her normal routine.

“It’s the best system, the best program,” said Marshall. “I like it. I would not change it for anything else.”

Ernestine Marshall, left, talks to John Webb during one of his weekly visits to her home.

Ernestine Marshall, left, talks to John Webb during one of his weekly visits to her home.

Disrupting Health Care Through Technology

Photo: eranicle and HuHu / shutterstock and Jacqueline Zaccor for LinkedIn

Photo: eranicle and HuHu / shutterstock and Jacqueline Zaccor for LinkedIn

In a series of LinkedIn Influencer blog posts, Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard shares insights and ideas about the future of health care and discusses the importance of working together to improve the health-care system as well as our own health and well-being. His topics range from the powerful potential of technology to the issue of loneliness. His latest, Disrupting Health Care Through Technology, is reprinted below. To see all of his blog posts, click here.

Bruce_Broussard_MEDIres.jpg W

Bruce Broussard

“How can the health care industry use innovative technologies to make a positive impact in health?”

This question – in one variation or another – is one I’m asked quite a bit when I meet with employers, customers, clinicians or government officials. Technology is seen as an innovative and disruptive force that can transform the way we deliver care.

My response has been to say that the industry is starting to make progress, but we’ve only begun to unlock the transformational and disruptive power that technology can have on health care. I point to how the emergence of wearable technologies, combined with the evolution of electronic health records, is reflective of our initial progress, but are still the first steps of the journey of a thousand miles.

If we want to be successful, connectivity, the exchange/sharing of information and the combination of big data and analytics must serve as the foundation for this transformation to occur.

The Data Factor
When you look at data, there are four key elements that serve as the foundation: data collection, data analysis, data insights and action based on the insight.

Data collection, which includes a range of data like electronic medical records (EMRs), lab tests, sugar levels for people with diabetes, heart monitors and other mobile devices, is essential for a productive data analysis. Through the use of algorithms and other means, the collected data is analyzed. Based on this data analysis, the providers are able to determine an insight from the data that can be used to address a gap-in-care. Since the provider has a more holistic view of the person, the provider can recommend a specific action – at a moment of influence – where this personalized data insight can make a difference in the health of the consumer.

It’s not just the impact that data will have on the provider. The way health care is financed is already being influenced by the importance of data. For example, take the evolution from the fee-for-service reimbursement payment model – paying providers on a service basis – to value-based payments, where providers are reimbursed for the overall health of the patients that they serve.

Given all that’s required to effectively manage a health population, data analytics is essential because it helps providers take a customized approach to each individual’s health supported by a more holistic understanding of the person’s health.

As we improve the timeliness and level, our ability to personalize the moment of influence will become robust. This is the true impact of increasing data, not just simply counting steps.

A New Age in Technology
Health care will be transformed – and ultimately disrupted – through the widespread adoption of data and other technologies. It’s starting to happen before our eyes. Google and Novartis have teamed up to bring smart contact lenses to consumers. IBM is using the power of the cloud to disrupt health care.

Apple’s HealthKit is designed to provide consumers with a way to view all their health data from their devices in one place. This enables Apple to learn more about the health of the consumer and create an app ecosystem that will provide real value. Apple’s app ecosystem may also provide the company with a view into the health of these consumers that providers don’t have. This view will require an expertise in analytics; Apple, Google and others are already starting to describe themselves as analytics companies in the health realm as opposed to focusing on products and services.

And many companies that most of us have not heard of today will also disrupt health care through technology.

So what does this mean? The short-term is about devices today that you’re wearing on your arm now like a Garmin; the long-term prospect is about devices that actually go inside your arm. It may sound like science fiction – and it’s a little unsettling in some ways – but we’re nearly there.

For example, Ada Poon, a professor from Stanford, created a fascinating technology that enables power to be transferred “deep inside the human body.” Professor Poon and his team built “an electronic device smaller than a grain of rice that acts as a pacemaker” that can be powered by a power source outside the body. While the article noted that this platform has not yet been tested in people, Poon believes these new devices could “create new ways to treat illness and alleviate pain.”

An insightful book, “The Second Machine Age,” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, looks at Google’s self-driving car, which navigates the open road by processing reams of data instantaneously. If the 100-plus-year-old automobile can be revolutionized by technology, so can health care.

These technological advances will help foster an innovative climate across the entire spectrum of health. From the conventional yearly checkup to remote patient monitoring, technology will not only serve the consumer but make it easier for providers to serve their patients. For example, iRobot and InTouch Health are using the untapped power of robotics to help doctors remotely interact with their hospital patients through telemedicine robots.

Technology will also disrupt access points in health care. For many decades, you had the doctor’s office, the hospital or an urgent care facility as your main place to go when you got sick. Today, you can speak to a doctor at a telemedicine kiosk, through your tablet, iPhone or some other mobile device. These access points will only continue to expand as technology is applied into health care.

For example, look at the power of telemedicine. A consumer might go visit their provider, who is able to take a picture of a mole or rash they have a concern with and send it directly to the dermatologist without the consumer having to see the dermatologist.

Making it Work for Health Care
With any disruptive technology we apply to health care, we must make sure, first and foremost, that it directly or indirectly leads to healthier people. The personalization of the moments of influence combined with increasing resources and more convenient access will change the landscape of health care.

For example, being able to identify a person with diabetes sugar level is increasing due to a smart insulin pump, than proactively reaching out to them via a telemedicine visit to coach or assist them in moderating their sugar levels. After normalizing the sugar levels, and realizing the cause was from a certain food type, you are able to provide further education on nutrition through an online nutrition class with a group of virtual friends.

We all know that spending too much time on our social channels can lessen our productivity, but a diabetes forum where people share best practices on how to combat the disease is using technology to make people healthier.

And that’s the main point. Technology for the sake of technology is not enough. Technological disruption must make it easier for people to exercise, eat healthy, and support a proper work/life balance.

Leveraging technology will require the health care industry to face several challenges that will be instrumental to success:

  • The health workforce must become highly skilled in technology – Consumers are much more sophisticated due to their wide embrace of technology, from how they manage their financial portfolios to what they buy online, and health care needs to catch up. The health care workforce must not only expand its technical skill set to capitalize on disruptions caused by technology but also improve its understanding of the consumer, who is getting even smarter about their health through technology. As more advanced technology is integrated into care delivery models and the cloud becomes more commonly used, care professionals of all levels must receive the training they need to maximize new technologies that help them better serve their patients.
  •  Providers must expand skills sets beyond the clinical – Given how science is being digitized, factors like emotional intelligence and communication skills will become more crucial as technology alters the role of the provider. It’s not just using technology; it’s being able to find patterns in the data generated by technology. Identifying an action from the data analysis that can lead to a better health outcome is a must.
  •  Partnerships with providers will offer more robust use of technology – Technology and analytics requires significant expertise and resources, therefore, leading providers should seek vendors and partners that advance their clinical model. Traditionally, billing systems and EMR technology has been the common solution. The future partners will include examples like sophisticated consumer and clinical analytic models, interoperability connections, population health management, remote monitoring technology or consumer engaging mobile applications.
  •  Machines must evolve from transactions to relationship building – It’s time to expand beyond devices that count steps, calories and monitoring blood pressure. Brynjolfsson and McAfee astutely address the importance of evolving from transactions to relationship building with the consumer and taking the complexity to the back of the system so a simpler, more meaningful relationship will rise up, enabling the individual to better manage their health.
  • Integration is essential for better health – Take the hundreds of millions of health care claims that are processed each year, which yield a significant amount of individual health and lifestyle information. As these systems evolve and collect more and more health data, the integration of these systems will be critical in identifying a moment of influence where technology can make a true difference in the health of the consumer. It’s not just the way the systems collect the data; it’s the integration of these systems that must take place.

Where Do We Go From Here?
Evolutions in technology will continue to disrupt care models and help the care industry transform itself in a consumer-driven model.

Most importantly, disruptive and innovative technologies must support the health aspirations of the consumers who use it, for the 35-year-old-mother of two training for a marathon to the 75-year-old grandfather who wants to attend his granddaughter’s wedding.

Leveraging the power of technology to transform health care through data analytics and other means will go beyond the care industry. Businesses, consumers and others will have a unique opportunity to improve their health through a new wave of innovation and disruption that has transformed countless industries for the better.

For my industry, the challenges we face – and will solve – will enable us to deliver a new era in care.

Nonprofits in 3 cities to win $350,000 grant: Vote for your favorite

Maddie Gilliland, 4, gets ready to go for a ride on Stella at the New Heights Therapy Center in Folsom, Louisiana. The center is a past Humana Communities Benefit grant recipient. You can learn how it used the grant to change lives by clicking on links provided at the end of the article below. (Photo by Ellen Nason)

Maddie Gilliland gets ready to go for a ride on Stella at the New Heights Therapy Center in Folsom, Louisiana. The center is a past Humana Communities Benefit grant recipient. To learn how it used the grant to change lives, click on links provided at the end of the article below. (Photo by Ellen Nason)

The Humana Communities Benefit program, funded by the Humana Foundation, took a giant leap forward this year by more than tripling its grant amount to $350,000 and asking the public to help choose the winning nonprofit organization in each of three cities: Chicago, San Antonio and Tampa.

Online voting for the winner of Humana’s signature grant is open from Monday, August 11 through Friday, August 22 at HumanaHCBVote.com. Each of three finalists in all three cities has created short videos and essays to explain why they believe they are the most deserving of the grant. After your vote has been cast, a message will appear confirming the vote and requesting that you help spread the word and encourage others to vote by “sharing” it on Facebook and Twitter. You can cast a vote for your favorite once each day.

This portion of the judging process will account for 20 percent of the nonprofit’s score during the final judging round – the Community Leader Judging – that will occur in late August and early September.

The Humana Foundation has awarded more than $8 million to nonprofits in 11 communities nationwide since launching the Humana Communities Benefit program in Chicago in 2003. Check out the videos and stories below for examples of how some of the past grant recipients have used the award to transform their organization and to change lives.

Videos:

Stories:

For more information about the Humana Communities Benefit program visit Humana.com/HCB.

Getting fit, giving back becomes par for the course at golf tournaments

coursewalk.jpg Bridgestone

While Rory McIlroy may have walked off the course as champion of the recent World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, many fans and charities came away winners as well.

The four-day Professional Golf Association (PGA) event drew many of the world’s top golfers to the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, and was broadcast on CBS. A partnership with Humana and Charity Miles also made it the latest in a series of golf tournaments drawing attention to the benefits of getting fit and giving back to others.
Charity Miles is a free GPS-enabled smartphone app that allows users to earn money for a favorite charity by walking, running or biking. Humana makes a donation to his or her preferred charity for each mile logged.

Abbey Konchan, who works for the PGA, stopped by the Humana Walkit tent in Akron, where she downloaded the Charity Miles app. She said she planned to use it as she walked the course during the event and later on the treadmill and Stairmaster. “It’s easy to download,” said Konchan as she thumbed through the list of more than 25 national partner charities, which includes the Wounded Warrior Project, Nature Conservancy and Stand Up to Cancer. She selected the Iron Men Foundation, which provides scholarships for the children of slain and disabled soldiers.  “I think it’s really awesome what Humana is doing,” she said.

Professional golfer Bo Van Pelt, who is sponsored by Humana on the PGA TOUR, said the Charity Miles program fits in with Humana’s mission to promote lifelong well-being as well as changing attitudes about fitness in the world of golf.  Van Pelt said when he first joined the tour in 1999, few professional golfers spent time in the fitness tents that are often set up during tournaments, but today, “Working out is part of a golfer’s regimen.”

Amateur golfers also need to exercise and eat right for the sake of their health – and their game. “Being in better shape helps the range of motion on your swing, plus it improves your strength, focus, flexibility,” said Van Pelt. “And with Charity Miles, you can feel good about helping yourself and a nonprofit at the same time.”

Humana offered additional incentives to download and use the app, particularly for area residents attending the tournament. For every mile that users of the app walked or jogged during the Bridgestone Invitational, Humana agreed to donate 25 cents to the Akron Children’s Hospital, which last year saw 779,000 children and has a policy of treating all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. “We’re thrilled to have this partnership with Humana,” said Heather Wuensch, the hospital’s Director of Community Benefits, Advocacy and Outreach.

Humana Patriots Outpost

James McClellan, an active-duty Air Force colonel stationed at the Pentagon, and his wife, Lisa, watched the tournament from the Humana Patriots Outpost.

James McClellan, an active-duty Air Force colonel stationed at the Pentagon, and his wife, Lisa, watched the tournament from the Humana Patriots Outpost.

In addition to promoting health and charitable giving, Humana sponsored a special tent set up for U.S. veterans, current members of the Armed Forces and their guests who were attending the tournament. The Humana Patriots Outpost offered a clear view of the course’s 14th hole, where they got up-close looks at golfing stars like McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. (Tiger Woods pars No.14 at Bridgestone: Click here to see video.)

James McClellan, an active-duty Air Force colonel stationed at the Pentagon and a golf fan who grew up in Akron, said he and his wife were enjoying watching the action from the Humana Patriots Outpost. “We have a perfect view of the 14th hole. We’re in the shade. Nice breeze. This is exactly what you’re looking for when you want to see a golf tournament.” Humana provided the tent in cooperation with Birdies for the Brave, which is a PGA TOUR-supported national military outreach initiative dedicated to honoring members of the Armed Forces and their families. McClellan said most don’t tend to ask for gestures of appreciation for their service to the nation, nonetheless, “It’s always appreciated.”

Related articles and videos:

 

Team Up 4 Health: Power of community is changing lives

Team-Up-Kelly

After winning a Team Up 4 Health scavenger hunt in a park in Pineville, Kentucky, Kelly Wilder was all smiles when she sat down to tell the story of her most valuable discovery: She holds the key to a happier and healthier life. She has rediscovered her own potential and the confidence to make positive behavioral changes that are already showing results.

Wilder, 33, jokingly estimates that, in the last few years, she probably had been walking a total of 30 feet during a day, but in recent weeks, she has completed several challenging hikes and is training to run a 5K race this fall.

“I reached the top of the mountain and couldn’t believe what I had just done,” she says about a recent 10-mile hike in Bell County, Kentucky. “It made me realize that I can do far more than I thought – more than I ever dreamed. Now I know what is possible.”

Wilder, who joined Team Up 4 Health about six weeks ago, credits the program for her newfound confidence and motivation. The program, sponsored by Humana, is implemented by global nonprofit Microclinic International (MCI), and local organizations in southeastern Kentucky. It began as a pilot program in 2011 in Bell County and expanded to Rockcastle County in 2014, in part because of the success of the pilot.

How it works

The concept and goal are simple: Empowering small groups of people – family members, neighbors, friends, church groups – to motivate and influence their own community members to make small behavioral changes in order to live longer, healthier lives. The program, which spans generations, takes health seriously but includes several fun elements, such as the scavenger hunt and forming teams that give themselves names like The Toads, The Fabulous 4, The Golden Girls, The Scorpions, and Movers and Shakers.

The small teams or “microclinics” often share meals or schedule physical activities throughout the week to help each other keep on track with a healthier lifestyle and to hold each other accountable for sticking to it. Once a week, the teams meet with a facilitator from a local health organization for classes. They compare notes, cheer each other on, compete for prizes, and learn about nutrition, exercise and ways to cope with – or prevent – chronic diseases.

Making a difference

Can small groups of two to six participants working on small changes really prevent chronic disease and create lasting, positive change for an entire community?

The numbers show that it is possible: Overall, 95 percent of the 750 initial pilot participants improved in at least one of the following measures: weight, body mass index, waist circumference, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, HbA1c percentage and systolic blood pressure. Additional data from the two-year pilot is available at the Team Up 4 Health website. (Click here to access the report.)

But the best evidence that it can work is listening to the participants, like Wilder, who see and feel the improvements in their own lives. During recent interviews in Bell and Rockcastle counties, other current and former program participants talked about social, emotional and physical changes that are having a positive impact on their total well-being. They talked about the value of feeling they are part of a team: motivating each other, holding each other accountable, inspiring each other and learning to live healthier while having fun with family and friends. They say they have learned that healthier behavior is contagious and are excited to see it spread through their own families and their communities.

They are awakening to the full potential for lifelong well-being in the natural beauty surrounding their communities, awakening to the full potential within themselves.

Ronnie Bullock (Mt. Vernon, Kentucky)

Vicki Cox, left, and Lorinda Fletcher, center, join Ronnie Bullock after a Team Up 4 Health class in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. The yellow object in front of Ronnie, who hs lost more than 10 pounds, is used in class to demonstrate what five pounds of fat looks and feels like. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Vicki Cox, left, and Lorinda Fletcher, center, join Ronnie Bullock after a Team Up 4 Health class in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. The yellow object in front of Ronnie, who hs lost more than 10 pounds, is used in class to demonstrate what five pounds of fat looks and feels like. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Ronnie Bullock has faced serious health challenges in recent years: stroke, two heart attacks and the loss of a leg. He is 48. Despite the enormous hurdles, Bullock was determined to use the health challenges as motivation to change his life. Since joining the Rockcastle County Team Up 4 Health program a few weeks ago, Bullock has already lost more than 10 pounds and is having fun in the process.

Bullock said the Team Up 4 Health classes have taught him a lot about nutrition and about the importance of being active even if confined to a wheelchair. He said he lost the weight by drastically reducing his intake of soft drinks, eating more vegetables, reducing portion sizes at all meals and learning to do exercises, such as yoga and tai chi, in his chair.

The camaraderie of the teams and the local program facilitator, Lorinda Fletcher, has inspired him to push himself further than he thought possible and has lifted his spirits.

“You have to stay active, be around other people and have fun – no matter what,” he said.

David Smith and Christina Stanfield (Corbin, Kentucky)

David Smith, left, and Christina Stanfield, Team Up 4 Health participants, said they have discovered that healthier behaviors are contagious. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

David Smith, left, and Christina Stanfield, Team Up 4 Health participants, said they have discovered that healthier behaviors are contagious. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

David Smith and Christina Stanfield are part of a Team Up 4 Health microclinic that formed a few weeks ago in Corbin. Both are already reporting positive health changes.

Smith said he had not had a routine checkup with his doctor for years but thought he was healthy and in pretty good shape for a 65-year-old until an initial biometric screening for the Team Up 4 Health program revealed some potentially serious issues.

The retired post office worker said the program has demonstrated, in simple terms, that making small lifestyle changes can become healthful habits that last a lifetime – and may increase the length of his own life.

He has lost weight and has more energy since he began eating better and becoming more active. He said it has been gradual and easy changes such as eating fruits and berries for snacks rather than his usual chocolate and pie, and watching less TV and taking more walks.

“It’s about moderation and making small changes that have made a big difference in how I feel,” Smith said. “I think it is going to change my life for the better and for the long run.”

His teammate, Christina Stanfield, agreed that the emphasis on moderation and simple changes has made it easier to make healthier living a lifelong habit and not a short-term goal. She also said better health has been contagious and is spreading to all generations of her family.

“My son’s health has improved, and my grandmother thinks the program is fabulous,” Stanfield said.

Virginia Giles and Willene Black (Bell County, Kentucky)

Virginia Giles, left, Willene Black, center, and Janice Ridings, who participated in the Team Up 4 Health pilot program in Bell County, said they have learned how easy it is to make good changes when you have the support of family and community. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Virginia Giles, left, Willene Black, center, and Janice Ridings, who participated in the Team Up 4 Health pilot program in Bell County, said they have learned how easy it is to make good changes when you have the support of family and community. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Virginia Giles and Willene Black participated in the initial pilot program in Bell County. They both began to feel better and learn how easy it is to make good changes. Both say they continue to get support for healthier living from within the community.

“The small changes are important,” said Giles, giving the example of realizing how much hidden sugar she was consuming in a day. She said one of her favorite classes during the program was when the group visited a local grocery store and learned to read nutrition labels.

“I considered myself healthy, but you don’t realize the full impact until you really begin to look at labels and find that some ‘heart-healthy’ labeled foods are much too high in sodium,” she said. “And a wheat bread label doesn’t mean the bread is really whole grain.”

Black attributes much of the program’s success to the fact that participants feel the support of their families and the community as a whole and that it is a simple, step-by-step process that makes the changes easy.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Black said. “It’s opened a whole new world. I didn’t realize how easy it would be to get into a healthier way of living and stay with it. It was like a lifesaver for me.”

Lakin Daniels (Local program facilitator from Bell County Health Department)

Lakin Daniels, facilitator for the Team Up 4 Health program in Bell County, Kentucky, said the participants motivate her to continue working to stay healthy. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

Lakin Daniels, facilitator for the Team Up 4 Health program in Bell County, Kentucky, said the participants motivate her to continue working to stay healthy. (Photo by Lisa Huber)

“They motivate me to stay healthy as much as I motivate them,” said Lakin Daniels, a Team Up 4 Health program facilitator in Bell County.

Daniels, who began her own journey to better health several years ago, said she has been inspired by the program since attending her first meeting.

“I remember one participant whose initial biometric screening revealed a dangerously high HbA1c (blood sugar) level,” said Daniels. “The participant had no idea it was that high and began to cry as the reality and seriousness of the situation set in.

“As the participant walked away that day, it really hit me how important this program could be,” Daniels said. “I don’t want to say we are saving lives, but maybe … what would have happened if that person had not learned about the serious situation and made an appointment to see a doctor? We are making a difference. Even if it is a small difference, it is going to pay off in the long run.”

HumanaVitality Cheer Squad app supports runners in Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Rock N Roll race 2013

HumanaVitality® will offer support and motivation for the more than 20,000 runners participating in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon with Cheer Squad. The app and website allow families and friends to cheer on runners from anywhere in the world by entering messages of inspiration that will appear on a giant screen during mile 10 of the race.

HumanaVitality is a presenting sponsor of the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon taking place on July 20. It starts and finishes in Grant Park, and features live bands performing at every mile along the scenic downtown course.

To send a cheer, runners’ friends and families can:

  • Visit the Cheer Squad app on Facebook or HumanaVitalityCheerSquad.com.
  • Type in the first and last name of the runner they want to support.
  • Submit a personalized cheer that is 30 characters or less.

Runners can create personalized links to share with family and friends so they can easily send cheers through the app. All cheers must be submitted by 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday, July 19.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon is celebrating its sixth anniversary in the Windy City. Two 5K races will also be hosted during the weekend – one on Saturday, July 19, and the other in conjunction with the half marathon on Sunday, July 20

For more information, visit RunRocknRoll.com. To send a runner a message of support, visit the Cheer Squad at HumanaVitalityCheerSquad.com. Follow @RunRocknRoll and @HumanaVitality on Twitter for more information on the upcoming race.

Taste of Chicago 2014: Eating healthy, exercising and giving back at annual food fest

Beat Kitchen Vegan Burger.jpg w

The annual Taste of Chicago food festival might not seem the ideal venue to put the spotlight on healthy living, but a growing list of healthier dishes and the opportunity to give back to a charity while walking, biking and running during the five-day event has helped make it the perfect destination for anyone who loves food, fun and fitness.

The Humana Healthier Choices program returned to the Taste of Chicago for the seventh consecutive year, with 52 healthy foods from 29 Chicago restaurants – the largest number of menu items in the program’s history – representing 44 percent of all vendors at this year’s festival.

The Humana Healthier Choices, identified by a panel of local physicians, are indicated by a green apple on the menu boards at participating restaurant booths and listed in the Humana Healthier Choices Passport Guide. Free copies of the Passport Guide can be found at the Humana tent, located on Columbus Drive between Jackson Boulevard and the Buckingham Fountain, and can be downloaded for free at the Taste of Chicago website and via facebook.com/TheTasteOfChicago. A full list of the healthier choice food items, which even includes desserts under 320 calories, can be found by clicking here.

The addition this year of the philanthropic exercise app, Charity Miles, has helped make a visit to the annual food fest a guilt-free experience. Taste-goers can download the free app from iTunes or Google Play Store and wander the Taste of Chicago while giving back to their favorite charity. Humana will donate 25 cents for each mile a participate bikes, walks or runs to the national charity of the user’s choice.

Humana’s contribution will be open to anyone who logs into the app in the Chicago metropolitan area until the close of the 2014 Taste of Chicago on Sunday, July 13. Users are also encouraged to share their progress during the festival through social media using #TasteOfChi and #HumanaWalkIt.

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