Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Awards 2015 Community Health Grant to Build YMCA-Pediatrician Partnership $20,000 BlueAngel Grant Will Continue Newport Program “Prescribe the Y” to Children

PROVIDENCE, RI – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) is awarding one of six 2015 BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG) to continue a recently piloted partnership between the Newport County YMCA, the pediatricians at Aquidneck Medical Associates and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. Pediatricians will “prescribe the Y” to 36 local children who have a body mass index (BMI) of 85 percent or higher—an indicator of childhood obesity.

Used in other states throughout the country, Prescribe the Y is a renowned comprehensive physical fitness and nutrition education program aimed at improving youth health outcomes by developing a love for exercise and an understanding of nutrition habits. The Newport program will enroll children based on pediatrician referral and monitoring and will meet twice per week for 12 weeks with exercise led by a certified personal trainer involving games and Y equipment. The program will also include two family dinners per session at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center to involve parents in nutrition education. Upon graduation from Prescribe the Y, participants and their families will receive free, one-year memberships to the YMCA.

The costs of childhood obesity are real: if the average body mass index in Rhode Island was reduced by five percent it could lead to health care savings of more than $850 million in 10 years and $2 billion in 20 years. Healthcare stakeholders and nonprofits are working together to create healthier environments for Rhode Island’s children in an effort to reduce the impact of the epidemic. For the second year in a row, the BlueAngel Community Health Grant program will focus on this critical issue. This year, six new grants and three transitional grants totaling $319,000 will be awarded to 2014 BACHG recipients.

“We believe the BACHG program has become a real force for advancing local efforts to build healthier communities across Rhode Island.” said Michele Lederberg, chief administrative officer and general counsel for BCBSRI. “The partnership between the Newport County YMCA and local pediatricians is exactly the kind of cross-sector collaboration we need to solve the child obesity epidemic, and BCBSRI is committed to continuing to do our part to help these kinds of partnerships grow.”

The Newport County YMCA has been serving Newport County since 1978. The Newport County YMCA is an association of people of all ages, ethnic origins, religious affiliations and socio-economic levels that works to significantly improve and positively influence the quality of life and social well-being for its members, their families and the community.

The BACHG program awards local organizations that teach and support healthy habits, from better nutrition to increased physical activity. BCBSRI accepts and reviews proposals for the BACHG program once a year. Each letter of intent received is reviewed to determine compliance with eligibility and funding priorities. Grant award winners were notified in December 2014 with funding to begin in January 2015.

About the BACHG Program
The BACHG program was launched in 2002 and has touched the lives of more than 244,000 people in the state. The program is a key component in BCBSRI’s vision of enhancing the quality of life for Rhode Islanders by increasing the quality of and access to healthcare services. The BACHGs are made possible by the BCBSRI Community Health Fund, a corporate donor-advised fund of The Rhode Island Foundation.

About BCBSRI
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state’s leading health insurer and covers more than 550,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsri.com, follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI, and like us on Facebook at fb.com/bcbsri.

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