The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation is partnering with The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) on a three-year, $3 million partnership addressing early childhood obesity. With a focus on the child care setting, Shape NC will increase knowledge of nutrition and the importance of physical activity practices among young children, their families and teachers, with the goal of increasing the number of young children in child care at a healthy weight. Measures of success will likely include, among others, improved nutrition and physical activity practices in child care settings, healthier play environments and a state-level policy blueprint to impact the health of young children.
This new initiative – Shape NC – will build upon the success of existing programs by bringing together three proven strategies to reduce childhood obesity:
- Improving nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in child care (NAP-SACC: Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care)
- Increasing active play by creating outdoor learning environments for children attending child care centers (POD: Preventing Obesity by Design)
- Utilizing existing programs to increase healthy movement (Be Active Kids®)
- North Carolina has the fifth highest rate of childhood obesity in the country.
- More than 31 percent of North Carolina’s children ages 2 to 4 are considered at risk for becoming overweight or are overweight, and these rates have steadily increased since 1995.
- More than 200,000 children spend part or all of their day in nearly 5,000 licensed child care centers across the state; some research suggests that young children who attend child care centers are at a less healthy weight than those not in formal care settings.
Shape NC will change child care communities so that young children’s earliest experiences with food and physical activity promote a lifetime of healthy behaviors.
Through the established statewide Smart Start network, this project brings together the policy, practice and nutrition strength of the NAP SACC initiative, and combines it with the built environment changes from POD, programming and training skills of Be Active Kids. This creates a new network of trained local experts to provide ongoing technical assistance for child care centers. Additionally, Shape NC will convene a leadership task force to address the broad health issues facing young children and produce a plan of recommended strategies and policy priorities for the state. Shape NC is the first statewide initiative to combine multiple successful strategies and implement both a top-down and bottom-up approach to improve the health of children in child care, their families, and their communities.
Shape NC Anticipated Results:
- A statewide policy blueprint for improving the health of North Carolina’s young children.
- 30 communities will create community partnerships and action plans for obesity prevention in young children.
- 100 early childhood professionals will broaden impact on healthy weight for young children by incorporating Shape NC strategies into their work with children, families and teachers, and as many as 60,000 children, 3,000 families and 2,500 child care teachers/directors will be reached.
- 1,500 early childhood and other related professionals will implement new knowledge about outdoor learning environments and physical activities for children in child care.
- 750 children attending model Shape NC early learning programs will maintain a healthy weight. 35 early childhood staff in five pilot centers will model healthy behaviors as a result of participating in the health and wellness program focusing on weight management/maintenance, healthy eating, fitness and smoking cessation.
Download the Shape NC Fact Sheet.
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