PITTSBURGH, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Highmark Foundation today announced that Highmark Healthy High 5, a five-year $100 million initiative, successfully influenced change regarding children's health issues in the 49-county region Highmark serves across Pennsylvania.
"When the Highmark Foundation embarked on this initiative, we set a goal that we would reach one million children," said Kenneth R. Melani, M.D., Highmark's president and chief executive officer. "We far exceeded that amount and left a legacy that that will benefit the children—and their children's children—in Pennsylvania for years to come."
In the Five-year Initiative Report published today, the Foundation details how this unprecedented five-year program effectively reached children, ages 6 to 18; in the five focus areas of nutrition, physical activity, bullying prevention, grieving and self-esteem.
"The results speak for themselves. Through the Foundation's School Challenge grant program, physical activity and nutrition grants were awarded to more than 1,500 schools," said Highmark Foundation President Yvonne Cook. "Our bullying prevention efforts have reached more than 210,000 students, representing 13 percent of Pennsylvania's total student population.
Furthermore, this bullying effort is the largest implementation of the globally recognized Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in the United States."
Other major achievements from Highmark Healthy High 5 include:
- More than 460,000 children participated in Health eTools for Schools program. This represents 41 percent of the student population covering 933 schools.
- A grant to SPARK (Sports Play Activity and Recreation for Kids) provided funding for 200 afterschool physical activity programs.
- Funding to the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center allowed for its innovative LearnToBeHealthy.org curriculum to be provided to more than 4,500 educators at 1,303 schools in 387 districts throughout all 49 counties.
- Eighteen locations were established for KidShape, a nationally recognized childhood weight management program, throughout the Foundation's Pennsylvania footprint.
- In the area of grieving, the Foundation not only supported the Highmark Caring Place, but also provided funding, counsel and promotional support to six additional grief counseling programs to serve an additional 15 counties.
- Self-esteem grants to organizations like Heartwood Institute, the Mel Blount Youth Home and Girls on the Run enabled these groups to positively influence children's physical well-being and their social and mental health as well.
In order to reach this many children across 49 counties, the Highmark Foundation forged partnerships with organizations that had expertise in one or more of the five focus areas related to children's health. These signature partners provided programming and counsel to ensure the effectiveness and impact of Highmark Healthy High 5.
Looking ahead, the Highmark Foundation is initiating new and innovative approaches to addressing children's health issues, including continued support of bullying prevention and addressing childhood obesity as key components of its grant-making strategy. The Highmark Foundation will continue to award high-impact grants to charitable organizations and hospitals. In addition, the Foundation will initiate a new focus area – healthy communities. This new strategic direction will allow the Foundation to work in collaboration with various stakeholders, policymakers and community-based organizations to create a unified vision of what defines a healthy community. To that end, the Foundation will strive to strengthen capacity-building efforts in high-need communities within its footprint to address health inequities and related interventions.
About Highmark Foundation
The Highmark Foundation is a charitable organization, a private foundation and an affiliate of Highmark Inc. that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The Foundation's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in the communities where we do business. The Foundation strives to support evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information, visit www.highmarkfoundation.org.
SOURCE Highmark Foundation