NEW YORK, Feb. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As a part of its ongoing work to address childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles in New York, Empire BlueCross BlueShield today announced a three-year, $373,000 grant from its corporate foundation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) which will support the organization's proven health and wellness program, Triple Play, at local Clubs throughout the state.
Created by BGCA in 2005 with founding sponsor Coca-Cola, Triple Play: A Game Plan for the Mind, Body and Soul encourages Club members to eat healthier (mind), become more physically active (body) and increase their ability to engage in healthy relationships (soul). To date, more than one million young people have participated in the program.
Empire is committed to improving the lives of the people we serve and the health of our communities and Boys & Girls Clubs of America shares that commitment," said Mark Wagar, President and CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield. "We're proud to support the Triple Play program because we know that if we give our kids a healthy start, they can hopefully avoid life-long health issues and grow up to achieve their dreams."
The New York funds are part of a $5 million grant from the parent company's Foundation which will support Triple Play programming in all 50 states and several Triple Play-related initiatives in 2011. These include an attempt to break a physical activity-related Guinness World Record and helping Club families get healthy through the second annual Triple Play Fit Family Challenge.
Boys & Girls Club of America estimates that the grant will benefit more than 2,250 youth throughout New York.
"Too many children are not eating smart and getting the proper amount of exercise," said Wayne B. Moss, senior director, Sports, Fitness & Recreation, BGCA. "Our Triple Play program directly addresses this issue by teaching kids fun ways to stay active, setting the stage for a lifetime of healthy habits."
Triple Play is proven to improve lifestyles and behaviors. A two year study of more than 2,000 children ages 9-14 showed that Triple Play succeeded in getting them to exercise more, eat healthier foods and feel better about themselves. The study found that Triple Play kids increased to 90 percent of the federally recommended amount of daily exercise, which is 60 minutes a day for children, while their peers outside the program decreased to 78 percent.
The grant is an important part Empire's commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health throughout the state. Through its State Health Index – a compilation of public health measures – the health plan continually works to identify the issues most in need of attention and directs its charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving health in those areas.
"The State Health Index truly guides and shapes our work throughout New York," said Dr. Scott Breidbart, Empire's Chief Medical Officer. "By tracking our progress year-over-year we are working to make sure that the programs we support and the fine work of our non-profit partners is improving health."
"The short- and long-term dangers associated with childhood obesity bring special importance to our work with Boys & Girls Club of America. We are excited to partner with our local Clubs to help them to head off one of the country's most pressing health challenges," Breidbart said.
More information about the Triple Play program is available at www.bgca.org/tripleplay.
About Empire BlueCross BlueShield:
Serving New Yorkers for over 75 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the largest health insurer in New York supporting nearly six million members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New York. Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at www.empireblue.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/healthjoinin, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthJoinInEmpire, or visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/healthjoinin.
About Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and Empire BlueCross Foundation:
Through charitable grant making, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and the Empire BlueCross Foundation, trade names of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation L.L.C., independent licensees of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State, promotes Empire's inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Empire 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 annual associate giving campaign and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates' campaign pledges. To learn more about the Foundation please visit www.wellpointfoundation.org.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has changed and saved lives, enabling young people to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve some 4 million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in neighborhoods throughout the country and on U.S. military installations worldwide, providing a wide variety of youth development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Key programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta.
SOURCE Empire BlueCross BlueShield