PITTSBURG — Live Well Crawford County met with community members in Pittsburg and Girard to discuss sharing $215,000 in grant funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.

The Pathways to a Healthy Kansas grant is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and helps boost healthy living into a community-wide — or in this case, county-wide — initiative. The Pathways program includes seven “pathways” that may receive allotments from the grant funding. The pathways include resident/community well being, community policy, the food retail sector, health care, restaurants, schools and worksites.

Live Well Director Brad Stroud is heading the program in Crawford County. He said Live Well is currently working with Blue Cross and Blue Shield to create an action plan for the three-year program.

“Once we get the plan finalized by the Pathways team — in January — we’ll start getting pledges signed,” Stroud said.

Schools, worksites, healthcare providers and others who wish to participate in the Pathways grant program are required to sign pledges outlining what they will implement. Pledged organizations then can receive implementation grants, technical assistance and achievement grants as milestones are reached.

Drafts of the pledges were available for attendees to take and review and Stroud said real pledges will be ready for signing in January.

Crawford County is one of eight recipients of the grant program, and according to Stroud, ranks around 100 of 105 counties in Kansas in regards to health. However, Stroud hopes to change that by focusing on nutrition, physical activity and tobacco cessation and prevention.

Implementation of the Pathways program brings healthy options into grocery stores, schools, restaurants and convenient stores. It helps build sidewalks and biking and walking trails. Members of the Pathways team are also available to build wellness plans and do store assessments to revamp food selection.

Stroud said one of his favorite things about this grant is its inclusivity.

“Sometimes with competitive grants you have worksites or schools in competition, but this allows us to work together toward one goal,” Stroud said. “We can work and maybe find and develop a system that works for all schools or all worksites or all hospitals.”

Stroud spoke to area school administrators, doctors and business owners at 8 a.m. Monday in Pittsburg, and again that evening at 5:30 p.m. in Girard. He said he was happy with the attendance and hopes to see many of the organizations commit come January.

“We had great representation from the schools,” Stroud said. “We had folks from Northeast, Southeast, Frontenac and Girard, we also had some doctors and a county commissioner.”

More information about Live Well Crawford County and the Pathways program can be found online at www.livewellcrawfordcounty.org or on their Facebook and Twitter.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.