Five Arizona Teachers Each Awarded a $5,000 Grant

Money to fund programs to fight childhood obesity

May 14, 2013, 10:30 ET from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

PHOENIX, May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona recently awarded five Arizona fifth-grade teachers a $5,000 grant for each of their schools to help reduce childhood obesity rates in Arizona. The five grants were awarded based on the winners' exceptional execution of the 2013 Walk On! Challenge.

The Walk On! Challenge is a free, 28-day, health and fitness challenge available to schools across the state and held each year in February. The program has reached more than 235,000 fifth-graders since it began and aims to motivate them to incorporate healthy habits into their daily routines for a healthier lifestyle now and in the future.

As part of the criteria of the grant application, teachers were asked to specify what the grant money would be used for if they won it for their school. Plans for funds include new pedometers, school education programs, field trips, gym equipment, expanded PE programs and prizes for children who participate in healthy programs.

"Our mission at Wilson Elementary is to systematically transform the school culture by increasing student activity levels, teaching healthy eating habits and providing students with the tools necessary to live long healthy lives," said Daniel Velazquez, teacher at Wilson Elementary School and grant winner. "With Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona's help, we can accomplish our goal."

This year's $5,000 grant recipients were:

  • Carol Wolbert from Rattlesnake Ridge Elementary in Tucson
  • Daniel Velazquez from Wilson Elementary in Mesa
  • Lisha Davis from Elfrida Elementary in Elfrida
  • Shari Labuwi from Desert Sun Academy in Cave Creek
  • Eldon Ferguson from Hulet Elementary in Holbrook

"Thanks to the Walk On! Challenge, Elfrida students are making healthier choices," said Lisha Davis, teacher at Elfrida Elementary School and grant winner. "Hopefully, the lessons learned will lead to life lessons that will keep the students healthy into adulthood."                     

Teachers from more than 175 schools participated in the Challenge reaching more than 20,000 fifth-graders this year. Students reported eating more than 600,000 servings of fruits and vegetables and more than 130,000 hours of exercise in the month of February.

"We're very proud of and grateful for the teachers who participate in our Walk On! Challenge," said Dr. Vishu Jhaveri, chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. "We couldn't ask for stronger or more passionate advocates of healthy habits than our state's teachers."

For more information about Walk On!, grant criteria or the 5-2-1-0 daily goal, visit

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ), an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest Arizona-based health insurance company. The not-for-profit company was founded in 1939 and provides health insurance products, services or networks to 1.3 million individuals. With offices in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson and the East Valley, the company employs more than 1,300 Arizonans. Follow BCBSAZ at or on Twitter at @bcbsaz to get information on health and wellness, a knowledgeable perspective on health insurance reform, and become a part of what we're doing in your community.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona