The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), with support from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, is expanding the ACSM American Fitness Index® () Technical Assistance Program to Las Vegas. ACSM unveiled a comprehensive strategic plan today that will guide the Las Vegas Valley toward improved health and fitness outcomes. ACSM created the plan with the assistance of the Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition (LVHCC), anchored by the United Way of Southern Nevada.

The technical assistance program is based on findings from the annual data report, which provides a health status snapshot of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The metro area’s consistently low scores prompted the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to invest in Las Vegas. In 2013, ACSM received a $157,782 grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s parent Foundation to use this year’s data report and work with community organizations in Las Vegas and other markets to initiate locally driven health improvement efforts.

To create the strategic plan, ACSM worked with LVHCC and other community partners to conduct a root cause analysis to identify areas within Las Vegas that have the greatest need for improvement. The priority areas identified are:

  • Percentage of low birth weight deliveries is too high;
  • Percentage of 3rd grader’s reading scores and 8th grader’s math scores are too low;
  • The high school drop-out rate is too high and high school graduation rate is too low;
  • Percentage of 18-24 year olds not in school and not working is too high.

“Since the first data report in 2008, the Las Vegas metro has consistently ranked near the bottom of the American Fitness Index,” said Walter Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, chair of the Advisory Board. “The combination of this strategic plan and the cradle-to-career focus of the Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition, Health and Human Services sector will push the community to improved health, fitness and subsequent quality of life benefits.”

“We are very grateful to ACSM and the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation for their help and support at this critical moment,” said Nelson Araujo, senior director of collective impact and diversity at United Way of Southern Nevada. “By adopting the collective impact model, the Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition is working hard to identify strategies that will help allow all stakeholders to come together, develop common goals and work together to drive change more effectively in Southern Nevada.”

LVHCC will be responsible for implementation of the strategic plan and report its successes back to ACSM. The introduction of the plan also presents an opportunity for more organizations to work together and to make a collective impact on Las Vegas’s health and fitness.

“We’re proud to make an investment in Las Vegas as part of our continuing commitment to address health disparities and improve public health across the country,” said Mike Murphy, president and general manager of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Nevada “The technical assistance program allows ACSM to lend its expertise in identifying actionable areas with the best evidence for improving health and fitness at the community level in order to make a community-wide impact quickly.”

A previous grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s parent Foundation in 2011 enabled ACSM to pilot technical assistance efforts in Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. This led to initiatives such as the “Top 10” coalition, a vision to make Indianapolis one of the top 10 healthiest communities in the U.S. by 2025, and Wellness Now, a plan to improve the health and wellness of Oklahoma City and County.

About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

About the Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition

Las Vegas Healthy Communities Coalition (LVHCC) is a community-based initiative led by key community stakeholders, dedicated to creating a healthy Las Vegas Valley. LVHCC, anchored by the United Way of Southern Nevada, fosters partnerships and collaboration among diverse community-based organizations and the sharing of resources and best practices in order to improve the health and well-being of Las Vegas Valley residents. LVHCC is a member of the Strive Network, the national network launched in 2011 as a way to connect communities that are building Cradle to Career civic infrastructure. More information can be found by visiting lvhealthycommunitiescoalition.org.

About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s associate giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.