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What is Shape NC?

Shape NC: Healthy Starts for Young Children is a six-year, $6 million initiative of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation  and The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) created to increase the number of children starting kindergarten at a healthy weight and ready to learn.

Shape NC assists communities across the state to promote healthy eating and active play among North Carolina’s youngest children, from birth through age five.  The initiative works with child care programs to instill healthy behaviors early on, creating a solid foundation for a healthy life.

In phase 1 (the first three years), Shape NC engaged communities spanning 27 counties to improve healthy eating and active play for over one thousand of our state’s children. In Phase II, Shape NC brought the program to scale and is currently engaging 213 child care sites impacting over 10,000 children

How does Shape NC work?

Shape NC works across the Smart Start network, led by NCPC, to engage communities. Smart Start partnerships formed local community action planning teams to develop and implement an Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Action Plan.

  • 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 and programs to provide ongoing support to centers in instilling healthy behaviors early on that create a solid foundation for a healthy life.
  • Three of the major statewide programs are Be Active Kids®, Preventing Obesity by Design and the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self Assessment for Child Care (Go NAP SACC).
  • The program structure includes:
    • Demonstration Sites – centers that provide on-site tours to see the nutrition, physical activity, and outdoor learning environments in action and learn about how these improvements were accomplished.
    • Model Early Learning Centers – centers actively engaged in Shape NC and receiving technical assistance from Smart Start local partnerships to incorporate all recommended healthy best practices.
    • Additional Child Care Centers – centers that will receive support of a technical assistance provider with the goal of increasing best practices.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Shape NC

Shape NC embodies distinct features that together make it a promising strategy for early childhood obesity prevention.

  • Shape NC works with the youngest children from birth to age five as part of the Local Smart Start network. Most childhood obesity prevention projects target school-age children. Starting early instills healthy behaviors early on. Research shows that preschool children who are overweight are almost 5x more likely to be overweight as young adults.
  • Shape NC integrates multiple research-based models to provide an in-depth approach to childhood obesity prevention. It combines evidence based programs to create a comprehensive approach: Be Active Kids®, Preventing Obesity by Design and the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self Assessment for Child Care (Go NAP SACC).  It taps into Smart Start’s work with Child Care Health Consultants, Parents as Teachers educators, and other service providers.
  • Shape NC mobilizes communities. Shape NC asks communities to commit to the goal of reducing childhood obesity and puts someone on the ground in each community to facilitate. Communities create their own early childhood obesity prevention action plans that include broad-based stakeholder engagement.

Where is Shape NC?

Click here for a map of participating counties.

Shape NC Blog

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