By Katy Schultz - Sr. Communications & Advocacy Consultant

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Making a healthy difference by bringing Willmar’s destination playground to life

June 7, 2017

At a recent playground build in Willmar, more than 130 Blue Cross employees exemplified Blue Cross’ mission of making a healthy difference in people’s lives. By traveling 100+ miles and contributing more than 600 volunteer hours, these individuals helped bring Willmar’s new Destination Playground to life.

Building a destination playground

The new playground is 19,000 square feet, making it the largest playground in the five-state area that is accessible and inclusive to everyone in the community, regardless of physical ability. The idea for the playground, which officially opens on June 24, quickly became reality thanks in part to support from many individuals and organizations, including Blue Cross.

Last month, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Legacy Fund announced its support of the playground through a $100,000 grant, with funding and volunteer support from Blue Cross. This grant is part of the 52 Weeks of Giving campaign, a year-long effort to make Super Bowl LII a statewide event that will help improve the health and wellness of young people in Minnesota.

Connecting with community

From the community’s perspective, Blue Cross’ involvement in the playground build reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to moving health forward in Willmar. And it provided employees another opportunity to see and experience Blue Cross’ investment in communities across the state.

“Knowing how this playground will impact the community made the experience really meaningful.”

“We coordinate many volunteer opportunities for our employees, and this one was particularly special,” said Susan Schuster, senior community relations consultant.

“It’s wonderful that we were able to be involved in something that will contribute to a legacy of healthy and active living in the Willmar community.

Other employees agree. “I loved being part of this endeavor,” said Jason Daum, digital media producer.

“It was amazing to see the impact we and the other volunteers were able to make in such a short amount of time. Knowing how this playground will impact the community made the experience really meaningful.”

Blue Cross’ Willmar Initiative

Providing funding and volunteer support for the Robbins Island playground is the most recent example of Blue Cross’ ongoing commitment to the Willmar community. The broad initiative in Willmar focuses on reducing barriers to good health and building connections within the community.

Other aspects of the initiative include:

  • Supporting existing work, with a specific focus on improving health within segments of the community which face the greatest health disparities
  • Creating a Community Table,which will explore new and innovative approaches to improving health and help ensure that all Willmar residents have access to the things they need to be healthy. We introduced the Community Table in this blog post.
  • Developing a Responsive Care Table, which will consider innovative ways to make the health care system more accessible and culturally responsive to all members of the community
Event photo gallery

See how Blue Cross volunteers hard work supported the evolution of the playground in this photo album on Blue Cross’ Facebook page.


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