Volunteers Needed for Program Uniting Generations in the Fight Against Obesity

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Empire BlueCross Foundation announces grant bringing proven wellness program to Albany

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December 20, 2011 
Media Contacts: 
 
Sally Kweskin,
Empire BlueCross BlueShield
(720) 373-4836
sally.kweskin@empireblue.com
 
 
 
December 20, 2011 – New York, NY – Remember riding your bicycle all over town until dark and then coming home to a hot, healthy meal your mom prepared? Lots of adults do, and now many of them are volunteering to help the next generation – and in the process themselves – get and stay healthy through an innovative program called CATCH Healthy Habits. 
Created by the OASIS Institute (OASIS), CATCH Healthy Habits, is a unique intergenerational health program which pairs older adults with children to encourage healthier eating and physical activity. If you haven’t heard of the program you probably will soon because it just got a big boost. 
Empire BlueCross Foundation announced that CATCH Healthy Habits will be coming to the Albany area thanks to a $41,048 grant from its corporate foundation. The funds are part of a larger, $2.7 million grant commitment that will expand the program to 18 cities over two years. In Albany, OASIS will work in partnership with the Albany Senior Services to implement the program. 
Obesity-related expenses and complications are quickly becoming one of the nation’s most pressing public health challenges. Across the country, 35 percent of people age 50 and older lead sedentary lifestyles, and obesity rates in the United States have more than tripled in the last three decades among children ages 6 to 11.  
Volunteers age 50 and over are needed for the program. Many will work with children in kindergarten through the fifth grade in weekly one-hour sessions to play active games, learn about food choices and make healthy snacks. Volunteers can also contribute their skills to help with training, community awareness, coordination and other leadership roles. 
“We know that if we can get kids off to a healthy start they have a better chance at avoiding life-long health issues and living their best lives possible,” said Ethel Graber, VP and GM of Empire BlueCross. “That’s why we are excited to work with OASIS to bring this program to students in Albany because we have seen the positive difference it makes in the lives of the students and adult volunteers involved in the program.”  
Over the next two years, OASIS will work with its primary partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, along with YMCAs, schools and other community partners to reach an estimated 5,000 children and volunteers nationwide.  
“Albany Senior Services and OASIS share a goal to engage mature adults in meaningful community service,” said Julie Liss, Albany’s CATCH Healthy Habits Coordinator. “CATCH Healthy Habits not only helps to combat the serious issue of obesity, but also benefits the adults who volunteer. Research shows that volunteers live longer, healthier lives than those who do not volunteer.” 
CATCH Healthy Habits will start in early 2012 in Albany, joining nine other cities across the country. The program will expand throughout 2012, bringing the total to 18 locations in 14 states. 
Those interested in volunteering in the CATCH Healthy Habits program should contact Julie Liss, Albany’s CATCH Healthy Habits Coordinator by calling 518-465-3322, ext 32, emailing jliss@seniorservicesofalbany.com, or visiting www.catchhealthyhabits.org
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Sally Kweskin, Empire BlueCross Foundation, 212-476-1421, sally.kweskin@empireblue.com
Mary G. Wilson, OASIS Institute, 314-862-2933 x 282, mgwilson@oasisnet.org
 

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