Empire BlueCross BlueShield Congratulates Local Schools on Winning ChildObesity180 Physical Activity Contest



June 22, 2012  
Media Contacts: 
Sally Kweskin,

(212) 276-1421  
June 22,2012 – New York, NY – Empire BlueCross BlueShield today congratulated the public schools of Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood for their nationally-recognized efforts to improve youth health. Together, the schools (PS 4, PS 102, PS 128, PS 123, PS 152, PS/IS 180, PS/IS 206, PS/IS 210) have been named a Regional “School Program” winner in ChildObesity180’s nationwide innovation contest for their “Just Move” program. The competition was designed to identify and reward the most creative, impactful, and scalable school-based programs and technologies to promote children’s physical activity.  
Empire BlueCross BlueShield is a proud member of ChildObesity180. The Active Schools Acceleration Project (ASAP), a ChildObesity180 initiative, launched the competition in February 2012 in a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America. First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged participation in the competition with a call for applications via a video message.  
“Empire is committed to improving the lives of the people we serve and the health of our communities,” said Mark Wagar, president and CEO of Empire BlueCross BlueShield. “We’re proud to support this program because we know if kids get off to a healthy start in life they stand a better chance at avoiding lifelong challenges such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. We are fortunate to have a nationally-recognized school program in our state and hope the success of this program will inspire others across the country to continue their health-improving efforts.” 
The highly successful programs recognized by the awards are working to correct course on troubling public health trends. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults are obese, and obesity prevalence among children and teens has almost tripled since 1980. 
The New York schools were recognized for their work to incorporate physical activity into their students’ days. Looking for creative ways to meet the state standard of 120 minutes of physical activity per week, and facing space and scheduling constraints, the winning schools employed a highly developed classroom-based activity program called Just Move. First launched in 1999 in Washington Height's PS 128M, Just Move now reaches eight schools in Washington Heights, Inwood and Harlem, with plans for seven more schools in the fall of 2012.  
Developed in collaboration with New York Presbyterian Hospital and other partners in the "Healthy Schools, Healthy Families" (HSHF) initiative, Just Move features an academically-integrated curriculum of a wide range of 5-minute in-class activity breaks. Color-coded flashcards explain the movements and corresponding academic lesson, with yellow for stretching and held-poses, and blue for intense cardiovascular sequences and plyometrics. A true homegrown approach, the cards and lesson plans are developed at the central level, then customized by the staff and students of each school at the start of the year. Together with other forward-thinking developments such as yoga, community gardens, and full-time P.E. instruction, Just Move is contributing to an active and happy student body. 
Christina Economos, PhD, Vice-Chair and Director of ChildObesity180, Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and a leading researcher in childhood obesity prevention said, “These innovators show how teachers, parents, and technology developers are creatively increasing physical activity in schools. They are leading the way toward a real shift in the nation’s approach to physical activity.” 
Teachers, schools, and school districts submitted their school-based physical activity programs to the “School Programs” category, while the “Technology Innovation” category invited developers, inventors, and entrepreneurs to demonstrate how existing or emerging technologies could be used to inspire kids to be physically active. A panel of experts representing various fields judged the entries.  
Working closely with leading researchers and expert staff at Tufts University and ChildObesity180, National “School Programs” and “Technology Innovation” winners will participate in pilot studies to expand their programs and technologies to schools of different types, sizes, and geographies across the country.  
Peter Dolan, Chair of ChildObesity180 said, “The competition’s winning programs and technologies are models that can help us reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. We are grateful for the support of thirteen of America’s leading health plans for this competition. With them as our partners, we are recognizing innovation champions and identifying opportunities to bring solutions to scale." 
More information about the Active Schools Acceleration Project, including a list of judges, is available at www.ActiveSchoolsASAP.org. A complete list of winners is attached. 
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