The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is bringing its Healthy Futures program to 20 area elementary schools.
The $2.7 million, three-year initiative focuses on improving child wellness. Schools participating in the Healthy Futures will receive innovative tools and resources to help children eat right, get fit and stay well — the initiative’s three core components.
To bring strong nutrition, fitness, and wellness support to each school, the IBC Foundation has partnered with expert regional and national leaders, including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Union, The Vetri Foundation for Children, Greener Partners, Fit Essentials, Villanova University Center for Obesity Prevention and Education and InnerLink, Health eTools for Schools.
“It takes a village to keep a child healthy. That’s why the Independence Blue Cross Foundation has brought together the best of the best for this initiative,” Lorina Marshall-Blake, IBC foundation president, said.
“Healthy Futures is unique. While most programs focus just on fitness or nutrition, Healthy Futures takes a comprehensive approach to address not only these two critical components of childhood wellness, but also prevention. We believe that this 360-degree view will make a meaningful and measurable difference in child wellness.”
The program includes the Eat Right, Get Fit and Get Well components.
With the Eat Right component, the Vetri Foundation will bring its “Eatiquette” program to five schools. Eatiquette equips schools to prepare and serve nutritious meals to children, and educates students and parents on the importance of nutrition. Greener Partners’ health educators will bring the Seed to Snack program and a hands-on mobile farm to classrooms to improve student attitudes about fruits and vegetables.
With Get Fit, the Philadelphia Union soccer team will implement school fitness programs, bringing coaches and players to schools for hands-on training and motivation. Fit Essentials will provide personalized school exercise classes enhanced with at-home routines.
For the Stay Well component, CHOP nurses will visit schools in record child wellness metrics, improve health screening rates and ensure students are given resources to maintain good health.
The foundation will conduct a three-year study tracking changes in indicators such as body mass index, prevalence of chronic disease — diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. — nutritional awareness and compliance with mandatory screenings to measure the results of the program. The study’s findings will help IBC Foundation and its partners shape recommendations for future child wellness initiatives as well as replicating the Healthy Futures program in other regions.
“We are thrilled to be one of the first schools to participate in Healthy Futures and to build upon the health and wellness efforts we’ve implemented over the past few years,” said Dr. Naomi Johnson Booker, CEO at Global Leadership Academy Charter School, which hosted an event with the IBC Foundation to showcase the Stay Well component of the program with CHOP.
“As both educators and community members, we care about the futures of our students, so working with the IBC Foundation and its partners to ensure those futures are brighter, happier, and healthier is a great honor.”
The IBC Foundation is working with the following Philadelphia schools: F. Amedee Bregy Elementary School, Global Leadership Academy, LaSalle Academy, St. Martin de Porres School, William M. Meredith Elementary School and William H. Zeigler Elementary School; Montgomery County schools — Jenkintown Elementary School, St. Francis of Assisi School and St. Joseph the Protector School and Delaware County schools — Bell Avenue Elementary School, Drexel Neumann Academy, Media Elementary School, Park Lane Elementary School and Stetser Elementary School.
The foundation is also working with the following schools in Chester County, Assumption BVM School, St. Agnes School and St. Elizabeth Parish School and these schools in Bucks County, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School and Cornwells Elementary School.
The foundation was founded in 2011 by Independence Blue Cross, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.