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Anthem-USABA National Fitness Challenge

June 3, 2019


Anthem-USABA National Fitness Challenge!
 

A grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation enabled The Iris Network to become one of only 17

organizations nationwide to participate in a National Fitness Challenge for people with vision impairment to live actively. 

4 participants averaged over 10,000 steps a day for the entire program

16 visually impaired residents of Iris Park Apartments participated

9,323.8 miles

101,007 active minutes

23,240,522 Steps 

In 2019, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation awarded The Iris Network and the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) a $20,000 grant to empower its members to participate in the National Fitness Challenge, an initiative founded by USABA and Anthem. The Iris Network is one of 17 organizations across the nation that is participating in the National Fitness Challenge, and is using grant funding to offer weekly exercise classes and sports and fitness activities in an effort to maximize healthy lifestyles. The various activities will be offered over the course of eight months to empower hundreds of visually impaired adults residing at Iris Park Apartments to increase physical fitness levels and lead healthier lives. 

This year’s challenge integrates technology and social media to inspire participants to set goals, create team environments and encourage leadership. Each participant has been provided with a Fitbit Flex 2 wearable – a universal way to measure activities, calories burned and number of steps taken. Participants also have the opportunity to utilize Fitbit Coach, which is a personalized training app that provides adaptive video workouts and audio coaching. Foundation grant funding is being used to provide Fitbits, fitness and nutritional instruction, performance prizes, technical and financial support for all participants. 

Since 2011, Anthem’s parent foundation has provided $1.3 million in grant funding to U.S. Association of Blind Athletes for the National Fitness Challenge initiative and has impacted thousands of Americans with visual impairments by partnering with 40 different agencies across the country. To learn more about the National Fitness Challenge, visit www.usaba.org/NationalFitnessChallenge

For the Anthem-USABA National Fitness Challenge, the Iris Network had a “Try-it” Day in May, 2019. Dirk Morgan, a member of the U.S. Blind Hockey Team, came to discuss his experiences. CrossFit Beacon, a local gym catering to all ages and abilities, talked about exercise and nutrition. They introduced us to new fitness techniques using weights, PVC pipe, and more. Maine Organization for Blind Athletic and Leadership Education (MOBALE) presented on the topic of adaptive sports and modifications that can be made to play them, as well as their summer and winter programming availability. A guest speaker, Bob Wakefield, board member of The Iris Network, demonstrated golf putting using the “try-it” technique. The day was a wonderful success with 10 out of 16 participants getting involved along with several other residents of the Iris Network. Moving into June, 2019, there is also a 5K walk as part of our challenge, and some members of the Maine Youth Leadership Team will be joining us. 

“I couldn’t be happier that Jacob and I so easily completed the 5K practice yesterday....FitBit has really changed both of our lives so much. I never ever thought he and I would do a ‘showdown day’ and he would win by less than 500 steps with over 15,000 steps! Wow baby, we have come a long way.” – Darlene, participant in USABA National Fitness Challenge!

 

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