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December 21, 2020

DES MOINES, IA – As the seasons change, and with the constraints COVID-19 has put on every family, it's more important than ever to keep kids active to help maintain their physical and emotional well-being. To champion this effort, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield recently awarded Iowa Kidstrong $5,000 to develop new curriculum and provide support to area schools to inspire children to develop sustainable habits that encourage healthy living.

"This critical funding from Wellmark supports the rollout of a modified program this January at zero cost to participating schools," said Cindy Elsbernd, founder and executive director of Iowa Kidstrong. "Whether students are attending school in person or learning virtually, Iowa Kidstrong is offering a new incentive program aimed at keeping them active throughout their day. I am extremely appreciative of Wellmark's support and vision for this work, especially at a time when every nonprofit is seeking assistance."

Iowa Kidstrong was founded in 1995 to address the childhood obesity epidemic and works to create a positive and encouraging fitness environment for central Iowa youth. In 2006, Iowa Kidstrong created KidStriders, an incentive program that encourages students to run or walk laps before class, after class or at recess. Each student-participant strives toward a goal of reaching 26.2 cumulative miles — the distance of a marathon — by the end of the school year. However, the KidStriders program was put on hold in March 2020 when schools transitioned to online learning due to the pandemic.

"Wellmark has been a proud partner of Iowa Kidstrong for over a decade and has awarded more than $85,000 to support our collective goal of keeping kids active," said Chris Verlengia, Wellmark's senior brand marketing manager. "We know Iowa Kidstrong has inspired thousands of students to make healthier choices, and Kidstriders teaches them the importance of goal setting and perseverance, which are building blocks of strong character they’ll carry through life."

To learn more about Iowa Kidstrong, visit iowakidstrong.com External Site.