Thundermist Health Center and Collaborators Receive $75,000 Blue Cross Grant to Lead Childhood Obesity Initiative

WOONSOCKET, RI – Thundermist Health Center, a non-profit community health center that provides health care regardless of ability to pay, has received a $75,000 grant from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) to fund its new pilot initiative Impacting Obesity Together: Woonsocket, which focuses on increasing healthy diets and physical activity among low-income Woonsocket families.

Thundermist will lead the initiative in collaboration with the Greater Providence YMCA, Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Connecting for Children and Families. With this funding, Improving Obesity Together: Woonsocket aims to reduce obesity among Woonsocket’s children through a systems approach.  Thundermist Health Center, Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Greater Providence YMCA and Connecting for Children and Families  will work together to ensure that Woonsocket’s children and families have access to evidenced based, culturally and linguistically competent, sustainable programming and year-round access to healthy foods.  The initiative is expected to improve access to each program for approximately 1,150 children and 450 parents/caregivers in Woonsocket.

The initiative will receive this funding as part of the 2014 BlueAngel Community Health Grant Program (BACHG), which supports nonprofit organizations addressing critical health issues in Rhode Island.  he Impacting Obesity Together pilot program will marry Thundermist’s “ThunderKids” program with the YMCA’s “Join for Me” program and Farm Fresh RI’s “Healthy Foods, Healthy Families” and farmers market programs.

“Good nutrition, physical activity and healthy weight are the foundations of healthy lives for children and their families, and keeping our communities healthy is everyone’s responsibility,” said Chuck Jones, President and CEO, Thundermist. “The BlueAngel grant will allow us to pilot our Impacting Obesity: Together program with the Greater Providence YMCA, Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Connecting for Children and Families. Working together, we can make a far greater impact than each organization could make individually, and this grant makes that collaboration possible.”

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.

“We’re looking at our next 75 years in Rhode Island, and 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. “By focusing on the specific problem of childhood obesity this year, we hope to make an even more targeted impact on Rhode Island’s future and those who will lead us 75 years down the road—our kids.”

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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