In a recent survey of the 100 most populous cities in America, Oklahoma came in dead last. That's right, we were voted the unhealthiest city in the country. Today, Dan sits down with Nancy Anthony, OCCF president and Kelley Barnes, vice president of community engagement, to discuss OKCGetsFit, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation's wellness grants designed to take action to turn some of those stats around.
Learn more at occf.org/wellnessinitiative and find ways to keep moving at keepmovingokc.org.
Visit occf.org to learn more!
Dan Martel 0:33
Hi, I'm Dan Martel. Welcome back to the pod. Glad you're back with us today. And I hope you'll find today's topic informative. It's that time of year again, as you know it, this is the time of year when people make all those resolutions that nobody really sticks to. One of the most popular, of course, people committing to eat better, lose weight, join a gym. We've heard all the stories. Well recently there was a survey done and out of the 100 most popular cities in America, Oklahoma City was voted the unhealthiest city in the country. That's right, last place.
Our neighbors, a little Northeast of us, Tulsa, fared a little bit better coming in at number 98. So, think about that for a minute. Living in the unhealthiest city in America, right here in OKC. So, the president of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Nancy Anthony thought we should take some action here at the foundation, and she's come up with a new wellness grant for those who want to turn some of those stats around.
Today, we're going to be talking with Nancy, Anthony and Kelley Barnes, the Vice President of Community Engagement with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. It's her department that will oversee this particular initiative. So, let's jump right in. Nancy Anthony, welcome to the podcast.
Nancy Anthony 1:39
Thank you very much. It's great to be here.
Dan Martel 1:41
So, Nancy, I remember you walking into a meeting one day at the foundation, throwing an article down on the table that showed that Oklahoma City had been voted the unhealthiest city in America. I know the foundation's been involved in the wellness arena for many, many years. You and some of the folks that you work with decided that this might be a good time to take some action. What did you do?
Nancy Anthony 2:02
Well, I have to say, I wasn't really surprised. Probably disappointed that we hadn't made any more progress than we had, but the reality is we just don't have very good indicators for things about people's health. Which is really, they call it wellness, but it really is disease. We have a lot of disease issues here, but in order to address those things, you have to think about what can you do to; number one, prevent the disease and how can you stay healthy?
So preventing things, you know, you can do testing and normal sorts of things, but to stay healthy, you have to eat right and keep active. We decided that those were the two areas that we could work on within the foundation, because that really is part of everybody's life. What we really do here is not necessarily treat illness as much as we just try to help people do the right things with their lives. To eat healthy is one thing, but to try to get fit and to stay active is another thing.
We decided to really try to focus on the get active part and really try to encourage people to do something every day. Whether they walk, run, jump, whatever would work for them, but to start moving around and becoming more active, because that is a very great prevention for heart disease and strokes and also mental health for that matter.
Dan Martel 3:16
Absolutely. And you're right, especially in the time of COVID too, a lot of people are climbing at the bit to get out and, you know, people talk about when you're in college, you always put on the freshman 15 and now there's the COVID 15. KeepMovingOKC is a pretty interesting initiative that the foundation oversees. That's really all about physical activity and finding those kinds of things. This is a little bit different. You guys right now at the foundation are coming up with an initiative in the form of a grant, a wellness grant. Can you tell me a little bit about how that's going to work?
Nancy Anthony 3:47
Well, KeepMoving is a way for organizations in the community that have activities to promote those activities. But we also found that there were people that wanted to do things that just needed a little bit more support. And we also wanted to encourage a little more creativity around things that people could do to become active. Not everybody wants to work out for a marathon or to buy a bike and go down to a trail, but they might want to go do a yoga class somewhere, or they might want to go and just walk around the park. So, we needed to come up with some ways that would encourage people to do that. We felt like offering a little bit of financial support might put together some activities.
In order to move the needle, we have to have more people doing things. And so, not only do we need to communicate that it was important, but we needed to try to encourage it with some incentives.
Dan Martel 4:33
So, what did you do to sort of get the word out to people in the community that the foundation was giving away grants anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000? I mean, what did people have to do to apply for those grants?
Nancy Anthony 4:46
Well, we're looking for ideas, and the important thing about the idea is what could you encourage somebody to do to actually move? The second thing is what group of people could you encourage to do that? Because we want to encourage people to do things who weren't doing things. And the last thing is probably the most important thing is, what would be the incentive to get those people to participate? Is it a social activity? Is it a health activity? Is it just something that's going to be fun for them to do. So those are sort of the three things. So, we encourage people to think about that and then send us some information about it. And maybe we can put together some way to support that.
Dan Martel 5:20
I think that is an outstanding idea. I mean, out of the top 100 cities, Oklahoma City was dead last.
Nancy Anthony 5:27
But we're going to improve. We're going to do better.
Dan Martel 5:28
That's good. So, the grants, as we've just mentioned, they can be large or small. So, tell us a little bit about some of the things that you're seeing. I mean, what...
Nancy Anthony 5:35
Well, one of the things that was interesting, everybody knows that going up and down the steps is okay for you and you can actually get some exercise going up and down the steps. And we actually had a group to promote a step climbing activity. You could be very aggressive, like pretending like you're climbing a mountain, or it could just be an everyday let's have a race and see who can do the best time for going up and down a certain set of steps or just counting steps. So, it's interesting to think, because everybody has steps available to them. And if your knees aren't too bad, then you can probably get a lot of exercise out of steps. And so, you could put some kind of an incentive around that, whether it be social or economic or whatever, to encourage people just to take the steps.
Dan Martel 6:15
You probably have a committee that looks over these applications when people apply for these types of grants, what do you guys see? What types of organizations might get a grant like this? Or is it still too early to even talk about that?
Nancy Anthony 6:26
Well, it could be anything. If you have a group of people and you think you can figure out how to encourage them to do something and you have an organization, any group that falls into that category. It could be a church, it could be a neighborhood. It could be an organization that has a venue and they just would like that venue used more, like walking around the zoo or walking around a park or doing something while you're walking around, either listening to music or talking to people or reading a book aloud or whatever might happen. But there are lots of things that will encourage you to do something. It's just a matter of who are the group of people and what incentive can you provide for them to participate.
Dan Martel 6:59
This is only the first round, you're doing another round this spring, is that correct?
Nancy Anthony 7:03
Sure. We're learning about this just as well as anybody. I mean, we want to try a few things and, you know, maybe make some mistakes, but maybe find some real opportunities. You never know. I mean, this is a different approach to things.
Dan Martel 7:17
Absolutely. Well, it's interesting. I find it interesting. If you look back several years ago, then former Mayor Mick Cornett challenged the city and put them, challenged them to lose a million pounds. That sort of gained and garnished some pop culture. You know, the former mayor was on television and this kind of thing. We're incentivizing people here at the foundation. You guys are actually incentivizing people to come up with ideas to basically move and get your physical act together, sort of right.
Nancy Anthony 7:43
That's right. And one of the things that we've learned in this whole promotion is getting fit can be fun. It doesn't have to be drudgery. You don't have to go out and feel like you're doing chin ups or, you know, running a mile faster than anyone else. It can be fun. So, the whole idea of this is how can you put a fun layer around something that really then encourages people to do it because they enjoyed doing it.
Dan Martel 8:04
Excellent. The foundation also partners with other organizations that encourage better health and physical activities. How do you guys work with partners like that?
Nancy Anthony 8:12
Well, we work with the YMCA, they have a lot of opportunities there, and we like to encourage people to do that. There are different kinds of running clubs and biking clubs around that have races that also do training around those kinds of things. And those are obvious kinds of ways, but we like to give those people an opportunity to attract other people. A lot of the parks programs, both in Oklahoma City and Edmond and Moore all have activities that not only for children and young people, but also for adults. So, we like to help promote, as much as we possibly can, things that other people are doing because it takes a wide variety of locations and sponsors to really attract enough people to really kind of get us out from being number 100.
Dan Martel 8:53
Nancy Anthony 8:53
We have to get a whole lot more people engaged.
Dan Martel 8:55
So Nancy, when will you all decide as a foundation, when will you decide on who would receive these first grants and when do you think the second round will happen?
Nancy Anthony 9:04
The trustees meet in the third week in February. So, after that will be probably the first round of grants, and then we'll see. I'm going to guess it probably would be more like the middle of summer for the second round. But again, we want to learn something from the first time to see what happens. Then also give people a longer period of time to sort of think about this, because we only announced this back in December. So, we haven't had a lot of time for people to think and plan. So, this second round will be interesting too.
Dan Martel 9:30
Well, Nancy, if there were any of our listeners out there that might have a question regarding this new wellness grant. This is brand new. I mean, I don't know of anybody that's ever done this; incentivizing people to come up with creative ideas to again, to your point, have fun and then still, you know, get a little more fit than number 100. What do they need to do? Who do they need to reach out to?
Nancy Anthony 9:48
Well, they can just come to the Community Foundation's website, there's information there at www.occf.org. And there's also information and links from www.keepmovingokc.org, which is another website, which actually has lots of information about other ways you can keep fit in the community.
Dan Martel 10:03
All right. Well, thank you, Nancy. I will say that nobody ever said Oklahoma City was dead last in the country for creativity. So, my hope is that there'll be enough people out there that'll take your advice and come up with some great ideas between now and the middle of summer, and who knows they could get paid for coming up with the next great thing. You know, it's exciting. Thanks for being on the podcast today.
Nancy Anthony 10:24
Thanks very much. We look forward to seeing what the results are going to be.
Dan Martel 10:30
So now we want to bring in Kelley Barnes the Vice President of Community Engagement with the foundation. Kelley, welcome to the podcast today.
Kelley Barnes 10:36
Thank you, Dan. I'm happy to be here.
Dan Martel 10:37
Glad you are here. So Kelley, we've been talking to Nancy a little bit ago and we've been talking about the upcoming wellness grants that you guys here at the foundation are going to be providing. You call it OKCGetsFit. Why is this new initiative so important for the community here?
Kelley Barnes 10:52
Well, a lot of government and philanthropic funding is directed to toward the treatment of sickness and disease. Very little is dedicated to actual prevention and wellness. Wellness is really a state of being, it's an ongoing lifestyle. It includes physical fitness, eating healthy, mental and spiritual wellbeing, healthy relationship, and really a sense of community. While the Oklahoma City Community Foundation can't address all of these things, we've channeled our efforts into addressing physical activity as a lifestyle. Even with a singular focus OCCF will only be able to have an impact if we can help to build momentum and work with our partners across central Oklahoma.
Dan Martel 11:41
Okay. You know, I know one of the things that the foundation has is something called iFunds and we'll get into, I know we're going to have a whole podcast about iFunds later on in the year.
Kelley Barnes 11:50
Dan Martel 11:50
I believe that there's one that is actually focused on the access to health care. How does this initiative, this OKCGetsFit, this wellness initiative, how does this differ from one of the iFunds and or is there some kind of a connection?
Kelley Barnes 12:05
Well, there is a connection, and yet they are very different. Our Access to Health Care iFund is really helping individuals who are underinsured and uninsured access healthcare services. So, if they're sick, if they have a disease so that they would have a place to go to get treatment and to get medicine and things of that nature. OKCGetsFit grant is really investing funding to help individuals and families and the community as a whole engage in healthy lifestyles through the course of their daily lives. Ideally, if people can commit to wellness, they will need fewer direct health care services as they get older.
Dan Martel 12:49
All right. Well, good to know. I'm glad you were able to clear that up. I was very curious about that. One of the things that I know that that Nancy had talked about earlier was that we're actually getting ready to make an announcement for these particular grants, this first round. So you've had people apply.
Kelley Barnes 13:03
Dan Martel 13:04
First question I have is how did you get the word out? How did people even know about this wellness grant?
Kelley Barnes 13:08
Well, we did a lot of things social media wise, and we also did some television ads featuring our new spokesperson, Leah Philpot and those were really well received. We have great information meetings and we send out information to our database of folks and we feature everything on our website. So, people who know that the community foundation makes investments in the community frequently look to our website as a source as well.
Dan Martel 13:38
So, there's sort of a tie in between this KeepMoving initiative, which is kind of a platform that people can go to, to find free and low-cost physical activities to stay fit. Then this is such a unique wellness grant because you're actually incentivizing people to come up with ideas to hopefully encourage people to get fit. Correct?
Kelley Barnes 13:59
Dan Martel 14:00
This is unique in that you're actually giving people money to think about ideas,
Kelley Barnes 14:06
Right. They have to think about them, but then they also have to do them. Yes, there should be some thinking involved and some strategy and we want it to be fun. We want people to collaborate so that we're reaching diverse audiences and we're having impact in the community. We want people to utilize the parks and our public spaces. I mean, that's a really important component of the grant and definitely utilizing our www.keepmovingokc.org website that features free and low-cost physical fitness activities that are happening throughout the metro. We're hoping to kind of tie all of these things together through unique organizations who are really thinking about this and can come to the Community Foundation with a proposal for a program or an activity that you know, can be ongoing and sustainable and perhaps even scalable.
Dan Martel 15:03
The other thing we talked about earlier on this program, Kelley, was the fact that after this first round of wellness grant applications, there's going to be a second round coming up in the spring. Is that correct?
Kelley Barnes 15:12
There is going to be a spring round. We don't have the exact dates yet, but it will be coming. We are reviewing our first cycle of proposals and those will go to the trustees probably in February, and then we'll have a spring grant cycle and we'll have, again, lots of announcements around that through social media and our website and a grant information meeting. We'll get the word out about that for sure.
Dan Martel 15:38
Fantastic. I guess my final question to you is, are you hopeful that the Community Foundation will enact some change in people's behavior by this initiative? I mean, I know it takes time to see something like this in a community, but I mean, I don't think there's anybody else in town doing what this initiative is doing for people or can do for people in the community.
Kelley Barnes 15:58
I know, and I really you know, Keepmovingokc.org was even the first of its kind nationally. If there is something else out there I'd like to know about it. You know, behavior change is really complex. It's hard to get people to change their behavior. What we're really hoping to do is motivate people to make a lifelong change in their approach to wellness. We're looking for approaches that really inspire particularly sedentary individuals to try an activity and perhaps stick with it for the long term. You know aren't we all challenged by that. That's what we're really hoping for through this grant program, is to see some unique ideas come forward that help inspire people to get active in their community and engage with the parks and our beautiful spaces that we have here.
Dan Martel 16:55
Well, Kelley I think that is outstanding. Thanks for being with us today. I appreciate you being here.
Kelley Barnes 17:00
Thank you for your time.
Dan Martel 17:02
Thanks for being with us, Kelley. We certainly hope this new wellness grant will energize people to consider more physical activity. I mean, nobody wants to be part of last place. Thank you for all you do for the foundation. It's very encouraged to see an organization like the OCCF doing its part to help people who want to begin living a more healthy lifestyle. As Leah mentions in the ad, "Come on OKC, we can do this!" And we can. We have nowhere else to go but up. Let's all take advantage of this incredible opportunity the Oklahoma City Community Foundation is giving us and let's get fit.
Before we go, we're going to give you a little sneak preview of next month's podcast, which is going to be all about scholarships. I wanted to bring in Jessica Schwager to give us a little update on the OCCF scholarships and talk a little bit about when students should be applying and maybe what they should be doing right now. Welcome, Jess.
Jessica Schwager 17:54
Thank you so much for having me.
Dan Martel 17:55
We're looking forward to talking about scholarships next month and we wanted to just kind of bring you on today to kind of maybe give our listeners just a little bit of little update as to maybe what students should be thinking about right now.
Jessica Schwager 18:06
Yes. Right now, students have already pretty much applied for admission to college. Now they're probably starting to think about how they're going to pay for college and that's where we come in. Right now, I would encourage students to already get going on our scholarship website. Start looking at scholarships. In fact, we have several scholarship deadlines coming up pretty quickly. Students really need to get in there and start looking at some of those applications.
Dan Martel 18:29
Where should they go to find some things, Jess?
Jessica Schwager 18:32
So, it is www.occf.org/scholarships. There is a “How to Apply” video on the website. I always encourage students to go ahead and look at that video because it's going to walk them step by step through the scholarship process. Then from there they will click a link that takes them to the scholarship application.
Dan Martel 18:51
Okay. Fantastic. Well, we're looking forward to hearing about some of the new scholarships and I think we're going to actually have a recipient, a scholarship recipient on the podcast next month.
Jessica Schwager 19:01
Dan Martel 19:02
We're excited about having the student on here and talking a little bit about how you all work with guidance counselors. If you're you interested in a scholarship or wanting to go to college and need a little financial assistance, you don't want to miss this program. Thanks, Jess.
Jessica Schwager 19:16
Dan Martel 19:18
Well that about wraps it up today. I'd like to thank our guests, Nancy Anthony, and Kelley Barnes for being with us and offering up their expertise and to Jessica Schwager, who will be back with us next month. You want to tune in for that as we'll be talking about scholarships with Jessica, Rick Fernandez of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and we'll also be talking with a couple of students who have been recipients of some of the scholarships provided by the foundation. Again, I'm Dan Martel. I look forward to having you join us again on Creating Impact Through Giving.