Transportation impacts access to health care, employment and educational opportunities. 3.6 million Americans do not obtain medical care each year due to a lack of transportation.1 This disproportionately impacts older Americans and people of color.
Over 4,200 individuals are more active and mobile in Wichita, Kansas, thanks to a $125,000 Empowering Health grant from UnitedHealthcare. We worked with Bike Walk Wichita, a grassroots organization with a mission focused on increasing biking and walking, and improving the availability of health resources. The grant has been extended to help advance health equity by connecting people in the community with access to free bicycles and equipment and hosting events to promote community-based resources.
Bike Walk Wichita brought together collaborative partners including the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Salud + Bienestar, the Shocker Neighborhood Coalition, Wichita Unified School District 259's Homeless Student Services, the Wichita Chapter of Delta Upsilon, the International Rescue Committee and the Wichita LGBTQ+ Health Coalition. These partnerships enhanced the organization’s outreach and representation across Wichita communities.
Outcomes driven by and for the community
Bike Walk Wichita engaging individuals within the communities conducting the outreach contributes greatly to the success of the grant outcomes, including the more than 4,200 individuals were reached. Several communities have benefitted from Bike Walk Wichita’s collaborative, including the Fairmount and Evergreen neighborhoods, the LGBTQ+ community and communities that include recently resettled refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Other successes include:
- The funding will increase the number of bike lanes and walking paths, improving access in several under-resourced communities.
- Residents from these neighborhoods are continuing outreach efforts and have joined Bike Walk Wichita’s Board of Directors and staff.
- Information was also tailored to the communities that are being served. For example, promotional biking and walking materials has been translated into three languages, expanding the reach of Bike Walk Wichita beyond English-speaking communities.
- The funding also expanded outreach to diverse communities and improved representation on local advisory boards.
Increasing mobility in communities
Bike Walk Wichita supports the McKinney-Vento Office of Wichita Public Schools – an organization that serves Wichita Public Schools students experiencing housing insecurity. Students were provided with bikes, helmets, lights, and bike safety education, ensuring they have a reliable way to get to and from school.
The grant supports inclusion is through refugee community resettling efforts, including aiding recent refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Many refugees do not have access to a vehicle and must rely on limited public transit, biking, and walking to access educational and employment opportunities. Bike Walk Wichita partners with the International Rescue Committee to provide bikes, along with safety gear and safe riding education. As a result of these efforts, Bike Walk Wichita received a 2022 Immigrant Service Award from Immigration Support Services Network.
UnitedHealthcare launched its Empowering Health commitment in 2018, focusing on expanding access to care and addressing the social drivers of health for people in underserved communities. Through 2022, the Empowering Health program has donated more than $51 million in grants reaching more than 8 million people and has distributed more than 174 million meals through partnerships with community-based organizations in 30 states and the District of Columbia.