The Outdoor Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and NC Recreation and Park Association announced the first winners of their 2013 GO NC! Health Challenge Grants program, whic supports projects and initiatives that increase physical activity and promote healthy lifestyles in North Carolina.

“Outdoor Nation invests in projects to create healthy, active communities,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “Thanks to support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the NC Recreation and Park Association, the Outdoor Foundation is able to bring innovative ideas to life that benefit communities across North Carolina.”


Through the four-year GO NC! initiative, BCBSNC is offering new opportunities to help North Carolinians get active, reduce obesity rates and rein in medical costs.


”These three organizations are leveraging our state’s outdoor assets in the fight against obesity and we’re excited to see them grow as GO NC! Health Challenge Grant winners,” said Kathy Higgins, BCBSNC vice president of corporate affairs. “Getting outside and becoming more active has proven benefits and these organizations are great examples of how North Carolinians are working together to set a new standard of living.”


“Through GO NC! we are encouraging North Carolina citizens to get outside more and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities in their communities,” said Michelle Wells, NCRPA executive director. “The number and quality of grant applications received demonstrates the continued need for grant programs and support in our state.”
The 2013 GO NC! Health Challenge Grant winners are (name • location • project • amount):


  • Town of Benson,  DR PK Vyas MD Walking Track Fitness Stations, $7,500: Benson will install fitness stations along a newly constructed walking track. The stations will provide opportunity for exercise and fitness for all ages.
  • Help Them L.A.S.T., Greenville, The Outdoor Experience, $7,500: The Outdoor Experience provides at-risk, underserved and underprivileged youth and their families/guardians access to nature, outdoor activities and nutrition education. The organization will use grant money to buy bicycles and helmets, which will promote health and wellness and allow the organization to accommodate more participants. 
  • Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Hendersonville, Cane Creek Greenway Health Challenge Trail, $7,500:
    Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy will use its grant award to more fully utilize a new half-mile trail for public recreational use. Interpretive signage along the new trail will educate trail users about community health and wellness programs, the beneficial links between outdoor activity and health and tips for living active, healthy lifestyles.

The challenge grants continue the momentum started at Outdoor Nation’s Signature Summit on the outdoors held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina June 29-30. Outdoor Nation, the signature program the Outdoor Foundation, gathered nearly 200 young people at the University of North Carolina and camped overnight at the 47,000-acre Jordan Lake State Recreation Area to brainstorm, collaborate and develop projects that get more people outdoors. BCBSNC and NCRPA were among the sponsors of this Summit.


The Outdoor Foundation is committed to increasing and expanding participation in outdoor recreation through entertainment, education, engagement and action in order to cultivate healthier, more active communities. During the past year, The Outdoor Foundation and Outdoor Nation have awarded more than $250,000 to youth for projects that reconnect young people with nature.