The Learning Community and Collaborators Receive $75,000 Blue Cross Grant to Lead Nutrition and Physical Activity Program for Youth & Families

CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) announced today that it has awarded The Learning Community, a K-8 public charter school serving Central Falls, Providence and Pawtucket, a $75,000 grant to fund Not Just Gym, a nutrition and physical activity program to engage students and their families in a lifelong commitment to exercise and healthy living.

In collaboration with local partners, The Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living and Shri Yoga Studios’ Shri Service Corps, The Learning Community will use funding for Not Just Gym to deepen their health and fitness programs. New additions will include expanded afterschool programs and integrating activity monitors and circuit training into physical education courses. While programming will reach students who are overweight or obese, the ultimate goal of Not Just Gym is to cement healthy living in all of the school’s students and extend that behavior by working in partnership with families. Programming to achieve that goal includes a monthly healthy living series for families and expansion of their Let’s Move Family Fitness Festival. Not Just Gym will impact more than 550 Rhode Island K-8 students and their families.

Funding for the initiative is part of the 2014 BlueAngel Community Health Grant Program (BACHG), which supports nonprofit organizations addressing critical health issues in Rhode Island.

“The theory behind Not Just Gym is that by engaging students in a wide variety of initiatives, they will adopt habits that evolve into lifestyle changes. Families are our most important partners, so it just makes sense to include them in this initiative. We have seen how excited students are to share what they know about exercise with their families at home. We are committed to the whole school community modeling that healthy living is important and fun,” said Sarah Friedman, Co-Director of The Learning Community. “Our terrific partners are known for innovative thinking about wellness; together, we will make a major positive and lasting health impact with our community.”

In 2014, BCBSRI celebrates 75 years of providing high quality coverage and peace of mind to thousands of Rhode Island families. In recognition of this milestone anniversary, BCBSRI will award three $75,000 BlueAngel Community Health grants to agency collaborations that provide community education and outreach on the importance of good nutrition, physical activity, and healthy weight for children and their families. For the first time this year, grants are focused exclusively on programs impacting childhood obesity.

“As we look at the next 75 years here, the BlueAngel program is one way we can support and partner with community-based agencies working to help Rhode Islanders live healthier lives,” said Michele Lederberg, Chief Administrative Officer, BCBSRI. “The Learning Community and its partners’ collaboration on this nutrition and physical program addresses an important need to create a commitment to health and wellness throughout a lifetime. We hope that this focus on tomorrow’s leaders will make an even more targeted impact on Rhode Island’s future.”

The BACHG Program is the cornerstone of BCBSRI’s charitable giving. Since the Program’s inception in 2002, BCBSRI has donated over $2.3 million dollars to support Rhode Island nonprofit organizations helping un- and under-insured Rhode Islanders to live healthier lives. More than 220,000 people in Rhode Island have been touched by funded programs since the BACHG’s launch.

In July 2013, BCBSRI issued a call for Letters of Inquiry from organizations seeking BACHG funding, specifically seeking programs that aim to combat childhood obesity in Rhode Island communities. Out of twenty-one agencies, three collaborations were chosen to receive $75,000 grants. The BACHG program provides one year of funding and an opportunity to reapply in year-two for transitional funding, if successful performance outcomes have been achieved.

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