LEWISTON — Lewiston-based Community Health Options, the state’s only nonprofit, Member-led health plan, and the National Fitness Campaign have launched a statewide partnership to expand free access to world-class outdoor fitness. The partnership will bring attractive and inviting outdoor Fitness Courts to communities across Maine in an ongoing effort to improve quality of life, promote activity, and create equitable access to outdoor exercise programs for communities around the state.

The NFC is a country-wide initiative aimed at supporting communities to plan, fund, and build a wellness infrastructure. The ultimate goal is to fight back against preventable diseases caused by sedentary behavior and transform the next decade so that millions of Americans will choose outdoor wellness activities for healthier lives.

“Mainers are known for enjoying the great outdoors. Our partnership with the NFC will help more adult Mainers enjoy exercising outside and will allow them to be their healthiest selves, mentally and physically,” said Kevin Lewis, president and CEO of Health Options. “Our vision to be a leader in transforming and improving individual and community health naturally aligns with the NFC’s work.”

Through the NFC partnership, Health Options Fitness Courts will be constructed in easily accessible public spaces beginning in summer 2022. These Fitness Courts, combined with free digital workouts via a fitness app available to Maine people, will provide community wellness opportunities and free access to outdoor fitness. NFC’s award-winning initiative is now planning its 500th Healthy Community in America and is delivering unprecedented and greatly needed outdoor wellness programs across the country.

The NFC and Health Options will begin accepting grant funding applications on Nov. 4 to support Fitness Court construction in local communities. Qualified municipalities, schools, and other organizations who own accessible public space are encouraged to apply. Grant recipients will receive a wellness toolkit and design resources to aid in planning, funding, and launching their outdoor Fitness Court and community wellness campaign. To learn more about National Fitness Campaign and how to qualify for funding, visit: www.nationalfitnesscampaign.com/maine.

“The National Fitness Campaign is proud to welcome Community Health Options as its state sponsor in Maine,” said Mitch Menaged, founder of the NFC. “This program will deliver tremendous resources to contribute to the important mission of fighting obesity and improving health outcomes as the network of Fitness Courts grows across the state. We look forward to working with Health Options to make this campaign a great success.”