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Independence Blue Cross Supports Pennsylvania Fitness Program with Grants to 10 Area Schools

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- One third of school aged kids in Pennsylvania are overweight or obese, and a major reason is lack of physical activity. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends children engage in 60 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week, but estimates show that most children aren't getting enough regular physical activity at school.

As part of its long-standing commitment to improve student health and fitness, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) announces its partnership with the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education on a new fitness initiative called Active Schools that aims to reduce childhood obesity and increase student exercise.

IBC is providing $10,000 to 10 of the 40 Pennsylvania schools the state has selected to receive grants, for a total contribution of $100,000. The Department of Health will also provide each school with a $5,000 grant through the federal Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant. The schools must use the funding for an activity or program that provides 30 minutes of the federal guidelines of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity. Funding is for the 2009-2010 school year.

"The continued rise in childhood obesity is extremely alarming and I congratulate Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health Everette James for tackling this difficult and potentially dangerous problem in our communities and schools," said Joseph A. Frick, president and chief executive officer of Independence Blue Cross. "By supporting initiatives that teach our children the importance of regular exercise and healthy lifestyle choices, we're making it a lot easier for good habits to be engrained as they grow older and to carry through for the rest of their lives."

"Our district is grateful to the PA Departments of Health and Education and Independence Blue Cross for making this program available to our students, and for recognizing that physical activity is crucial to children's health and success in school," said Bettyann Creighton, director, Health, Safety and Physical Education for the Philadelphia School District. "This grant will allow students to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity before school, during physical education class, other in-school opportunities, and after school. For example, the video game platform some of our schools will use is very appealing to kids and lets them perform at their own level of fitness. Our focus is to get all kids moving."

IBC's long-standing commitment to student health includes the following:

  • Health eTools for Schools. A web-based application, Health eTools for Schools provides educational resources and cutting-edge technology to help schools facilitate health policy requirements and enable better nutrition and physical activity planning for children. To date, more than 700 area schools and more than 359,000 students are enrolled in Health eTools for Schools.
  • Do The Smart Thing(SM) Youth Tobacco Prevention Program. In a partnership with area schools, IBC provides fifth-graders with information and resources to help them maintain a smoke-free lifestyle.
  • Adolescent immunization program. Annual reminders are mailed to the parents of adolescents ages 11 to 13 in more than 72,800 families.
  • Good 2 B Me website. IBC's latest entertaining and educational online resource for kids ages 11 to 17 helps them learn how to make smart choices to live healthier.

The following schools will receive Active Schools funding from IBC:

  • Charles Boehm Middle School, Bucks county
  • Owen J. Roberts Middle School, Chester county
  • Scott Middle School, Chester county
  • Glenolden School, Delaware county
  • Cedarbrook Middle School, Montgomery county
  • Anna Lane Lingelbach School, Philadelphia county
  • Penrose Elementary School, Philadelphia county
  • Charles W. Henry School, Philadelphia county
  • John H. Taggart School, Philadelphia county
  • Baldi Middle School, Philadelphia county

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Independence Blue Cross supports comprehensive health care reform that would extend coverage to all Americans, reduce costs, and improve quality. We also advocate reform that builds on the current employer-based system that currently serves 170 million Americans. Learn more about our views on health care legislation now working its way through Congress by visiting our website.

Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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