By Christian Knights - Strategic Communications Manager

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Minnesotans from Boomers to Gen Z agree: healthy communities matter

February 20, 2018

Even in a time of sharply divided opinions on many topics, Minnesotans can agree on one thing— keeping communities healthy is important and deserves our support.

That positive, future-forward sentiment resonated broadly with people of all ages responding to a recent Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota public opinion poll conducted by the Center for Prevention. And all agree that when it comes to public health, it matters that we keep our kids healthy, as the communities of our future are being shaped now.

All age groups polled supported having school health and wellness projects funded by tax revenues. Younger Minnesotans were the most likely to support funding health and prevention programs with tax dollars.

“What we heard was broad, cross-generational support for public health initiatives — and that bodes well for healthy communities of the future,” said Janelle Waldock, vice president of community health and health equity at Blue Cross.

Different ages want different focuses

While there’s a unified call for the common good, people across varying age groups differ in their health their preferences for what types of preventive programs are funded.

When it comes to prioritized funding for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer prevention, support varied by age group, with the highest support, nearly 50 percent, coming from Gen Y, compared to 35 percent of Baby Boomers.

Respondents who support prioritized funding for diabetes, heart disease and cancer by age:

46 percent of Gen Y
42 percent of Gen Z
38 percent of Gen X
35 percent of Baby Boomers

Favorite physical activity? Depends on your age

Preferences varied by age when it came to favorite physical activities, too. Baby Boomers were twice as likely as Gen Z to walk for exercise (90 percent versus 45 percent) — and were also more likely to garden than Gen Y.

When it comes to enjoying a run, 49 percent of Gen Y takes up the habit, more than any other generation. Whereas, recreational sports appealed to more Gen Z responders.

Building a healthy community for all ages

So, what’s a community to do?

Is it possible to bridge the generational divide and offer health and wellness programs that will satisfy the vastly different physical activity preferences and support for preventive programs?


Across the state, enterprising community organizations are taking smart, creative approaches to address health issues for all ages. These inclusive programs are designed to strengthen community connections, while supporting public health.

Duluth’s Children and Families Collaborative

In Duluth, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative (LPCFC) is working to create healthy, tobacco-free spaces in their neighborhood— an area of concentrated poverty, and a federally recognized food desert.

One popular event, Monday Night Family Gatherings, brings together neighborhood parents and children for weekly meals and activities. Food and fellowship strengthen social connections, showing families under stress that there’s a safe, welcoming place for them right where they live.

Slow Roll St. Paul

In the Twin Cities, Slow Roll St. Paul rolls out the welcome mat for people of all ages and skill levels, inviting them to join biweekly community bike rides through St. Paul neighborhoods in the summer.

Live Healthy Red Wing

And in southern Minnesota, Live Healthy Red Wing is helping to foster healthier communities in a variety of ways. One project improved crosswalk safety and ease, encouraging Red Wing residents of senior housing to venture out for more walks. They were recently featured as a Blue Cross Trailblazer for their innovative program.

Share your community health stories

Whatever our ages, wherever we live, Minnesotans want to live in healthy communities that foster well-being. United by that common goal, we’re willing to roll up our sleeves and work together to make it happen. That’s the best version of Minnesota nice.

Have you seen examples of cross-generational health prevention at work in your neighborhood or community, drop us a line and share your story.

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