K-State Research and Extension news service
Manhattan, KS– Officials with the Kansas 4-H Foundation and Healthy Blue have announced a partnership to invest in the mental health and well-being of Kansas youth.
According to information from the 4-H Foundation, Healthy Blue – a collaboration of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and Anthem Partnership Holding Company – has pledged $100,000 to the initiative.
As part of the program, Kansas 4-H agents and youth will cover such topics as healthy coping skills, interventions, fitness, nutrition, life skills, healthy peer-to-peer interactions, and the prevention of substance abuse/addiction at a local level through community conversations.
“Creating a culture of learning where youth and adults are involved in a collective effort is crucial to addressing mental health concerns in Kansas,” said Sarah Maass, state leader for the Kansas 4-H program. “Addressing the health and wellness of youth in a safe and inclusive environment is a top priority for Kansas 4-H professionals. We want to put Kansas 4-H youth in the position to facilitate the conversation and take the lead on addressing the issues.”
Kansas 4-H officials said that through the immersive learning experiences that 4-H offers, kids can create meaningful relationships, learn coping skills, and discover independence.
“Kansas 4-H delivers these experiences through 4-H clubs, which become a learning community for positive youth development,” Maass said. “These experiences expand into schools and after school programs.”
Kansas 4-H, she adds, is committed to meeting the essential needs of youth, including belonging, independence, mastery and generosity.
Charmekia Martin, director of growth and engagement for Healthy Blue, said the initiative aims to create and deliver solutions that respond to the needs of individuals while removing unnecessary processes, closing gaps in care, and making measurable impacts in improving the health of entire communities.
“We are pleased to be able to support (the effort to better) mental health for youth in Kansas while partnering with Kansas 4-H in the creation of this new and innovative program,” she said.
Mindy Weixelman, the interim president and CEO of the Kansas 4-H Foundation notes the organization’s commitment to empower young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime, saying “we believe in the power of young people.”
“We value partners who invest in the well-being of Kansas youth,” Weixelman said. “In 4-H, we see that every child has valuable strengths and real influence to improve the world around us. Our partnership with Healthy Blue will improve the overall well-being of Kansas 4-H youth, which will translate into their community.”
As part of the partnership with Healthy Blue, the Kansas 4-H Foundation will also be connected with community engagement representatives to provide support to this initiative.
Kansas 4-H is the state’s largest youth development program with more than a century of presence in Kansas. The Kansas 4-H Foundation works with businesses, organizations, individuals, and families who share a common desire to support a statewide effort of growing future leaders. The Foundation is the 501(c)(3) fundraising arm for Kansas 4-H and Rock Springs Ranch.
Those interested in supporting Kansas youth through the 4-H Foundation can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 785-775-0123.