Minnesota Hospital Association


February 04, 2016

CentraCare Health's BLEND walk-a-thons promote healthy eating and physical activity

BLEND (Better Living: Exercise and Nutrition Daily) is a central Minnesota collaborative made up of businesses, schools, health care organizations and families working to reverse childhood obesity. Funded by the CentraCare Health Foundation, this initiative focuses on promoting healthy eating and physical activity through improvements in policies, systems and environments.

As part of its sustainability focus, BLEND works with area schools to implement healthy fundraisers and has created the BLEND walk-a-thon as a healthy, active fundraising alternative. Rather than selling candy or cookies, students collect donations for their school and then participate in a day of celebration and physical activity.

BLEND walk-a-thons have proven to be wildly successful. In fact, since BLEND walk-a-thons were started in 2011:

  • 22 schools have participated.
  • These schools raised $800,910 ($534,094 at St. Cloud area schools).
  • The program impacted 12,686 students and touched the lives of 32,710 people.

“Our walk-a-thons program has been a great way for BLEND and childhood health to get into schools. It’s a wonderful fundraising program and the schools retain 100 percent of the profits,” said John Inkster, BLEND coordinator for CentraCare Health. “When schools experience a successful walk-a-thon fundraiser, it helps open doors to the wellness committees for schools or school districts. This is where we can really impact change.”

BLEND walk-a-thons also:

  • Support a healthy school food environment and wellness activities.
  • Eliminate competitive food sales in fundraising.
  • Build school spirit.
  • Increase student participation.
  • Require no contracts.
  • Are hassle-free – no more fulfilling product orders.
  • Do not require students to sell products and goods for manufacturers.

BLEND has developed a variety of resources to help schools begin programs within their districts. These successful fundraising activities have been an excellent way to partner with school districts on updating their school food, physical activity and wellness policies.