Y of Central Maryland and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Report Significant Gains in Initiative to Combat the Major Public Health Crisis of Childhood Obesity

New grant builds on demonstrated success of pilot, extending it across all Y Journeys Youth Development Programs, reaching over 7,500 youth annually

Baltimore, MD (July 26, 2012) - The Y of Central Maryland is beefing up one of its newest and most successful childhood development programs in hopes of helping more than 7,500 children each year get fit and improve their health.

With the help of a two-year, $280,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the region's largest health insurer, the Y of Central Maryland has begun extending its Fit N Fun childhood obesity program into all of its Y Journeys Before- and After-school Enrichment programs, Camps, Early Childhood Development including Head Start and other youth initiatives.

By the conclusion of the grant, the Y plans to have broadened Fit N Fun to 20 camps, 80 before - and after-school sites, seven early-childhood development centers and 15 Head Start sites, with plans to reach more children as the ongoing Y Journeys programs grow.

Since 2008, Fit N Fun has reached over 40,000 children and their families in the region. So far, CareFirst has given almost $1.3 million toward the program, which is a research-based exercise, education and nutrition program.

"CareFirst continues to show strong and innovative leadership in addressing critical public health challenges such as childhood obesity," said John Hoey, President and CEO of the Y of Central Maryland. "We are honored to be their long standing partner and deeply appreciative of their continued trust. Given the fact that we are the largest provider of youth development programs in the state outside the school system, we have the opportunity to make quite a significant impact together. The reality is that the only way to begin making progress in the fight against childhood obesity is for those of us who work with large numbers of children across the region to step up and commit to doing something significant. With CareFirst's commitment, we are poised to do so."

Fit N Fun program participants are pre- and post- tested on multiple measures of fitness such as strength, endurance and Body Mass Index (BMI). Average improvement across all measures is 19 percent over a semester, with improvements as high as 146 percent for students enrolled over multiple semesters. An attitudinal study called "Prochaska" is also implemented measuring students' readiness for sustained lifestyle changes including: exercise, eating fruits and vegetables and watching TV. Fit N Fun participants show consistent improvement across all measures in this study as well.

Effective immediately, the Y of Central Maryland begins adapting the program to the variety of age groups and settings in which they teach and will begin the development of a train-the-trainer program designed to move Fit 'n Fun from its current pilot phase to an integral part of the Y Journeys curriculum.

The expanded program will still be measured with outcomes reported quarterly. Measurement will include a combination of the biometric and Prochaska studies now in use as well as President's Council on Physical Fitness testing.

This is the third grant the Y of Central Maryland has received from CareFirst and will build on the $1 million in grant funds CareFirst has already given the Y of Central Maryland over the past five years to develop and pilot the Fit N Fun program.

"We are pleased to support the Y of Central Maryland in the fight against childhood obesity," said CareFirst CEO Chet Burrell. "It's gratifying to know we are helping to make a difference in the health and well being of so many young people in the communities we serve. Supporting programs such as Fit N Fun encourages children and their families to develop lifelong habits of healthy nutrition and exercise - habits that can provide benefits for a lifetime."

Our Mission:
The Y of Central Maryland is a charitable organization dedicated to developing the full potential of every individual through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

Our Commitment:
At the Y, we are committed to providing family-oriented, affordable, high quality programs.

A cause driven organization with three areas of vital focus:

  • For Youth Development: nurturing the potential of every child and teen
  • For Healthy Living: improving our community’s health & well-being
  • For Social Responsibility: giving back and providing support for our neighbors

The Y is a place for everyone. People of all races, ages, faiths, gender, abilities, backgrounds and incomes are welcome and financial assistance on a sliding scale is available to those who would otherwise be unable to participate.

Our Values:
Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility

More information can be found at www.ymaryland.org

About CareFirst

In its 75th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.4 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2011, CareFirst contributed $51 million to community programs designed to increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our web site at www.carefirst.com or follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CareFirst_News.

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