$5.4 million investment will create revitalized space for community activity
The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation has announced that the first project under its new strategic focus, the BlueCross Healthy Place℠ program, will be an expansive, revitalized public space at David Carnes Park in Memphis.
In total, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation is investing as much as $5.4 million in the Whitehaven neighborhood park. Up to $4.5 million will go toward construction of the park and its facilities, along with a $900,000 endowment earmarked for its maintenance and care.
The BlueCross Healthy Place program provides neighborhoods with communal spaces for healthy activities, improving the overall wellbeing of Tennesseans.
“Concentrating our giving on BlueCross Healthy Places will allow us to have a bigger impact within our communities, reaching both urban and rural areas across the state,” said Scott Neal Wilson, BlueCross director of community relations and health foundation. “We’re excited about the potential of these projects, and we are honored to partner with the city of Memphis to launch this new focus.”
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee gathered feedback for the Memphis project during a community meeting held at Greater Faith Tabernacle Ministries on Monday, April 16. Mayor Jim Strickland and Councilwoman Patrice Robinson were in attendance, along with Kevin Woods, BlueCross Memphis market president.
“The BlueCross Healthy Place program shares one of our top priorities: healthy, inviting public spaces for our citizens. That’s why we’re so grateful for this partnership with the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, and we’re looking forward to enhancing this park for neighbors here in Whitehaven,” said Strickland.
BlueCross Healthy Place projects are collaborations with the communities they serve. During the planning phase, representatives meet with community members to hear their ideas and ensure the space is tailored to the needs of area residents. Finalized BlueCross Healthy Places may include a number of elements, such as athletic fields, walking tracks, playgrounds and fitness areas.
The Memphis site was selected in partnership with the city and in response to community residents who previously expressed interest in having more resources for the park.
“Input from residents is crucial to the project’s success. The space will be an asset to their community – an area where they can be active and form new connections. It will truly be a hub of renewed civic activity and a jewel in the Memphis park system,” added Woods.
The project will be completed with PlayCore, a national play and recreation company. Efforts will be made to work with local and diverse suppliers.
Additional competitive funding opportunities for future BlueCross Healthy Place projects across the state will be announced in the fall. For the latest updates on the Memphis project, please visit www.bettertennessee.com.
For additional resources related to the BlueCross Healthy Place program, please visit https://bcbstnews.com/mediaresources/bluecross-healthy-place-program.
The Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) along with the Uptown Advisory Committee is planning a week-long charrette to give residents, business owners and community stakeholders a voice in the Uptown Community Planning process. The Charrette will be held from April 16 – 20, 2018 at the Neighborhood Christian Center, located at 785 Jackson Ave in the redevelopment area.
The community meetings are designed to gather input from community residents and stakeholders in an inclusive and interactive way. Throughout the week there will be fun pop-up events throughout the neighborhoods in the redevelopment area. Friday, April 20th, the CRA Team will share with the public early recommendations and close the week with an Uptown themed community block party at the Explore Bike Share Warehouse at 61 Keel.
“During the Uptown community planning process, residents will have an opportunity to voice their opinions and influence public decisions,” said Tanja Mitchell, CRA Uptown Neighborhood Coordinator. “This is the community’s plan; therefore it is important that residents bring their authentic voice to the table and participate in shaping the future of the community in which they call home. As both an employee of the CRA and a resident of Uptown, I encourage my neighbors to the north, south and east to come out be a part of the planning process.”
Over the next 14 years, more than $95 million will be generated in the Uptown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district which includes not only Uptown but parts of Smokey City, New Chicago, North Parkway, Carnes and the Medical District which are in District 7. “I want to encourage every Uptown resident to participate in the Uptown Community Plan Planning process,” said Berlin Boyd, Chairman, Memphis City Council. “This is an important opportunity to be a part of the process on the forefront and have a say in where and how funds should be allocated to enhance the community.
I guarantee you will feel a great sense of pride and inclusion knowing that you participated in this worthwhile endeavor and had a direct impact and influence on the decisions being made.”
The CRA encourages those not able to attend the public meetings to provide input by completing the survey found at CRAMemphis.org. A full listing of all of the public meetings, pop-up locations, and daily recaps can be found on the website.
About the Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency
The City of Memphis and Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency was created to review applications for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts and expenditures of TIF Funds. The seven-member Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors are appointed by the Mayor of Memphis and Mayor of Shelby County. They are responsible for working with the CRA staff to participate in partnerships that encourage reinvestment in neighborhoods.
Tennessee collected an impressive 20,590 pounds of prescription drugs during the DEA’s 15th annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 28.
For Count It! Lock It! Drop It! those statistics continue to indicate that its efforts are paying off. CLD is a community program for prescription drug misuse that works to raise awareness about ways to keep drugs, especially opioid pain medication, out of abusers’ hands and how to properly dispose of them.
The CLD program was begun as a local initiative by the Coffee County Anti-Drug Coalition, but it expanded its support training and outreach efforts to 80 counties following a $1.3 million grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation in 2016. In addition, CLD played a key role in getting a prescription drop box established in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties. With the help of organizations such as coalitions, health councils and law enforcement departments, it has distributed 148,000 campaign materials.
As part of its outreach, it has heavily promoted the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day encouraging people to properly dispose of unused and expired prescription pain pills along with other medications sitting around their homes.
Overall, the DEA’s Take-Back Day was a huge success, not only in Tennessee, but nationwide. A record-setting 475 tons of expired and unwanted prescription medications were collected at more than 6,000 sites across the United States.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the take-back results in Tennessee,” said Kristina Clark, CLD project manager. “This event continues to increase awareness of the need to safely dispose of unused pain medication, and we want to continue to encourage everyone to take part in helping us fight the opioid epidemic.”
Dr. Andrea Willis, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, says these results reinforce the Health Foundation’s decision to work with Count It! Lock It! Drop It! to help address the epidemic.
“We know firsthand the importance of confronting the opioid crisis in Tennessee,” Dr. Willis said. “It has been incredibly rewarding to work alongside CLD and help expand the program across the state. Each year, Tennesseans turn in an impressive amount of medication, and we have no doubt this is due in part to CLD’s efforts to educate the state on the dangers of prescription medication misuse.”
Tennessee has been participating in the DEA’s take-back events since 2010, and more than 205,000 pounds of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription pills have been collected.
Count It! Lock It! Drop It!® (CLD) is a comprehensive community program for prescription drug misuse prevention based in Coffee County, Tenn. With support from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, and the community at large, the program is leading a statewide education effort to combat the misuse and abuse of prescription pain medication. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 7,636,112 opioid prescriptions were written in 2016, and it is CLD’s mission to make the community aware of the risks and dangers associated with the prescription drug misuse epidemic.
About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.
The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc., was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The foundation awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, the foundation is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee’s mission is to provide peace of mind through better health. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on serving more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and across the country. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit the company’s website at bcbst.com.