Three Year Results Show Significant Improvements in Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Child Care Programs Across the State.
RALEIGH, NC — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation announced today the award of a $3 million grant to the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC) to expand Shape NC. Shape NC is an early childhood obesity prevention program that, in its first three years, has dramatically improved child care environments across the state. The program has engaged 19 communities spanning 27 counties to improve health and nutrition for our youngest citizens. As a result of the first investment, Shape NC improved access to healthy fruits and vegetables and increased physical activity for more than one thousand North Carolina children. Program results include:
- Children’s Weight: Over the course of each school year, trends showed the percent of children who reach a healthy weight is gradually improving.
- Active Play: The percent of children being provided with 90 minutes or more of physical activity daily rose from 51 percent to 85 percent. \
- Fruit: The percent of children being provided with fruit two or more times per day rose from 34 percent to 80 percent.
- Vegetables: The percent of children being provided with vegetables two or more times per day rose from 32 percent to 60 percent.
- Outdoor Learning: 19 child care centers made improvement to outdoor learning environments including additions such as bike paths and vegetable gardens.
“I am grateful for the partnership with the BCBSNC Foundation — it has allowed us to break down barriers and help our children overcome the obstacles they face in maintaining a healthy weight,” said Stephanie Fanjul, President of NCPC. “Because of their support, we will build on these impressive results and provide even more North Carolina children with a healthy start to a productive life.”
Shape NC helps communities and child care centers develop environments, practices and policies that encourage young children to be healthy. This is accomplished by creating a strong and vital network of local experts to provide ongoing support to centers in instilling healthy behaviors early on that create a solid foundation for a healthy life.
“High obesity rates and rising health care costs are problems that we are facing as a nation and as a state,” said Dr. Nancy H. Brown, Chair of the Board of NCPC. “Shape NC effectively tackles these problems at their roots – our state’s youngest children. From healthy eating to outdoor classrooms, the program has helped provide children, child care center staff and families with positive experiences in nutrition and physical activity.”
The award of an additional $3 million means that the program will be able to expand its work through the Smart Start network, led by NCPC, to provide more North Carolina children with the start they need to develop strong minds and bodies.
“Shape NC is already helping communities and child care centers develop environments, practices and policies that encourage young children to be healthy,” said Kathy Higgins, President of the BCBSNC Foundation. “This initiative works, so we’re giving the North Carolina Partnership for Children the resources it needs to expand and enhance Shape NC and improve the health and well-being for more of North Carolina’s youngest children and the communities in which they live.”
Shape NC was recently highlighted as a key part of recommendations for a strategy that addresses the problem of rising obesity rates and health care costs by The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) Task Force on Early Childhood Obesity Prevention (ECOP). The recommendations included ways to work across fields and sectors to ensure that similar messages, assessments and policies impact parents and children when and where they can be reached. NCIOM will be hosting a summit on January 29, 2014 to discuss the recommendations and outline an implementation strategy.
To learn more about the work and results of the NCIOM Task Force, visit the NCIOM website.
Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. Click here for more information.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) is an independent philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The Foundation’s focus areas include: Health of Vulnerable Populations – improving health outcomes of populations served by safety net organizations and Healthy Active Communities – increasing physical activity and access to healthy local foods. BCBSNC Foundation invests in programs and services in response to grant requests and proactively creates initiatives or partners with organizations to address specific needs. It also coordinates several Signature Programs, among them, Be Active Kids® and Healthy Community Institute for Nonprofit Excellence. More information is available at www.bcbsncfoundation.org. Since its founding in 2000, the BCBSNC Foundation has invested nearly $98 million into North Carolina communities through more than 720 grants.