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Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania Announces 2010/11 Active Schools Grants

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August 25, 2010

Funding will help eight area elementary schools address obesity, boost physical activity

August 25, 2010 Wilkes-Barre, PA – Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are helping local elementary schools fight childhood obesity through physical activities in the coming school year.

According to state data, nearly one in three Pennsylvania students in grades K-6 are either overweight or obese.  The Active Schools Grant Program targets the issue by offering grants of up to $15,000 to help schools create new wellness initiatives and purchase fitness equipment, supporting an increase in students’ daily physical activity.

Earlier this summer, elementary schools statewide were encouraged to apply for $5,000 through the Department of Health, with local schools also eligible for a matching grant of $10,000 from BCNEPA.   Eight schools within BCNEPA’s 13-county service area have been selected to receive funding.  More than 3,500 K-6 students will benefit from the program.

The eight local schools receiving grants are:

• Weatherly Area Elementary School  --  Weatherly Area School District / Carbon County 
• Robb Elementary School  --  Keystone Central School District / Clinton County 
• Woodward Elementary School  --  Keystone Central School District / Clinton County 
• Dickey Elementary School  --  Keystone Central School District / Clinton County 
• Lyter Elementary School  --  Montoursville Area School District / Lycoming County 
• Loyalsock Valley Elementary School  --  Montoursville Area School District / Lycoming County 
• Memorial Elementary School  --  Hanover Area School District / Luzerne County 
• Pleasant Valley Elementary School  --  Pleasant Valley School District / Monroe County 

“We are so pleased to continue as the regional sponsor of the Active Schools program, and we congratulate the local schools receiving grants this year,” said Denise S. Cesare, president and CEO of BCNEPA.  "An important part of our mission at BCNEPA is to improve the health of our community.  Active Schools, in addition to our support of health and nutrition education and early learning and screening programs, will help local children start down the path to a healthy future.”

During the 2009-10 academic year, BCNEPA and the Commonwealth provided Active Schools grants to five local middle schools, including Hanover Area Junior/Senior High School, and those schools will continue to receive funding from the Department of Health to maintain their programs for the coming school year.

“The students and parents were so pleased to include a daily activity program in their school day,” said Joanne Basar, director of federal and state grants for the Hanover Area School District.  “We appreciate the cooperation and collaboration of BCNEPA and the Department of Health on the Active Schools program.  Without their assistance and support, the program wouldn’t be possible.”

"Given the success of the Active Schools Program in middle schools, we wanted to now give elementary schools an opportunity to put evidence-based programs in place that get kids active for at least 30 minutes every day," said state Secretary of Health Everette James. "Physical activity is important not only to reduce childhood obesity, but for all children to develop strong bones, a healthy heart and sharp minds."

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association headquartered in Wilkes-Barre.  It offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to approximately 600,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.  The company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions that support more affordable health care, promote personal accountability for health and wellness, and offer superior service and partnership to employers, members, and providers.

Media Contact:
Anthony Matrisciano