The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association announced that it has joined the Partnership for a Healthier America, which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to end childhood obesity.
According to a release, over the next year, BCBSA will support the creation of 40 new Play Streets roads closed to traffic and open to the community to encourage physical activity. Play Streets offer a high-impact way to encourage more physical activity, particularly in neighborhoods that lack open space.
"Every day, local officials like these are changing our children's lives and helping them learn and grow and fulfill every last bit of their potential. And thanks to the commitments we're announcing today, our cities, towns and counties will be able to do even more," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "We still have a long way to go to solve this problem. But if leaders like these keep coming to the table and we all keep working together, then I am confident that we can give all our children the happy, healthy futures they so richly deserve."
PHA and BCBSA are inviting cities and towns across the United States to apply for funding that will support local efforts to get kids and communities out and active by creating at least four Play Streets per locality.
PHA's Play Streets program allows localities to tailor the program to their needs and resources.
"For more than 80 years, the Blues have made a difference in the lives of the communities they serve. One area of specific focus for all Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies is the health and wellness of children and reversing the trend of childhood obesity," said Scott Serota, BCBSA president and CEO. "It is going to take a collaborative effort to make a difference in this growing epidemic and the Blues are looking forward to working alongside PHA, city officials and local community partners to organize and successfully launch Play Streets events across the country."
Ten recipients will receive funds, technical assistance, and communications and marketing support from PHA and BCBSA for Play Street events in their city or town. Winning cities will be chosen based on their ongoing commitment to increasing physical activity among kids; health education and programming; sustainability of the program; and community development.
"We know that, for a number of reasons, most kids do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity," said PHA CEO Lawrence Soler. "Lack of safe places to play, limited access to playgrounds or parks, and busy schedules are just a few of the reasons kids aren't as active as they used to be. As a leader in the health insurance industry, BCBSA understands that ending the childhood obesity epidemic is going to take work from all of us, at all levels, including addressing the challenges that lay before us in a creative manner."
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a federation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that provide healthcare coverage.
The Request For Proposal submissions are due on Aug. 29.
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