Healthy U Initiative Expanded to 40,000 Children Statewide in Effort to combat obesity. Kickoff event at the Summit YMCA
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance recently announced a $2.25 million expansion grant for Healthy U – a collaborative initiative to combat the obesity epidemic among New Jersey children. Over the next three and a half years, Healthy U will expand to impact approximately 40,000 children statewide. In addition to the after-school setting, the program will now be offered in two new settings, preschool and school-based for the first time in the history of the program.
The Summit YMCA plans to kickoff this new Healthy U expansion on Thursday, October 18 for the preschool and afterschool programs. Children will participate in CATCH games, nutrition and taste testing of fruits and vegetables, along with special Healthy U and CATCH original songs, and learning about making healthy eating choices. Summit City and School officials are expected to attend along with Flag House (supplier of CATCH and Healthy U materials).
“Since its inception in 2008, the Healthy U program has equipped thousands of New Jersey children and their families with nutritional education and increased physical activity to help them lead a healthy life,” said Robert A. Marino, Chairman and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ and Chairman of the Board of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. “The Foundation will now join with the YMCA Alliance in renewing and building upon our commitment to combat obesity.”
Healthy U uses the evidence-based CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) curriculum to help children adopt behavior changes that promote healthy eating and physical activity. This award-winning curriculum was created in 1992 by national education and child health experts at the University of Texas. In its first phase, Healthy U has been implemented in all 41 member Y’s across New Jersey, and more than 20,000 children ages 5 to 13 have participated in the program at over 400 afterschool sites. The four-year evaluation results showed that the program is effective and working, children are adding more fruits and vegetables to their diets, are cutting back on TV and computer time and are being physically active more each day. “With this additional investment from the Foundation, the Healthy U program will be expanded to more than 5,000 pre-school children, integrated into 50 public schools that will reach 15,000 children at the elementary level, and maintained as an afterschool program at 400 Y sites for 20,000 children,” Marino said.
“New Jersey’s children face an obesity epidemic and programs like Healthy U are making marked improvements in their health,” said Dr. Arturo Brito, Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Health. “I congratulate The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance for expanding Healthy U so that more children may participate.”
Healthy U at-a-glance, Phase I (2008 – 2011):
* $1.2 million Horizon Foundation for New Jersey Grants
* 380 after-school Y sites
* 500 trained Y staff
* 20,000 children, ages 5-12
Healthy U at-a-glance, Phase 2 (2012 – 2015):
* $2.25 million Horizon Foundation Expansion Grant
* 400 Y afterschool Y sites; 20,000 children ages 5-13
* 79 Y preschool sites, 5,000 children, ages 3-5
* School-based – 50 schools, 15,000 children
* 2,000 trained Y and other staff
Some Facts About Childhood Obesity:
* More than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. are obese or overweight, a statistic that health experts consider an epidemic.
* Obesity increases the lifelong risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, stroke, certain kinds of cancer, and many other debilitating diseases.
* Researchers estimate that one out of every three males and two out of every five females born in the United States in the year 2000 will be diagnosed with diabetes.
* More than 100,000 children ages 5 to 14 have asthma each year because of overweight and obesity.
* If current adolescent obesity rates continue, researchers predict that by 2035 there will be more than 100,000 additional cases of heart disease linked to obesity.
* Between 1999 and 2005, the number of children hospitalized with a diagnosis of obesity nearly doubled; treatment costs rose from $125.9 million to $237.6 million between 2001 and 2005.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to Prevent Childhood Obesity
* One in five children is overweight or obese by the time they reach their 6th birthday.
* In New Jersey, the obesity rate among low income children ages 2-5 was 17 percent.
Source: White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity-Report to the President, May 2010.
CATCH is an evidence-based, coordinated school health program designed to promote physical activity, healthy food choices and the prevention of tobacco use in children. The CATCH programs cover kids from pre-school through 8th grade and have been implemented in 8,500 schools and after-school organizations across America. By teaching children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun, CATCH has proven that establishing healthy habits in childhood can promote behavior changes that can last a lifetime.
About The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey:
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey promotes health, well-being and quality of life across our state by supporting charitable organizations. Since its inception in 2004, the Foundation has made more than 750 grants totaling more than $28 million dollars. For more information, visit www.horizonblue.com/foundation.
About the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance:
The New Jersey YMCA State Alliance is a statewide organization whose mission is to collaborate and work together on areas of mutual benefit to strengthen and enhance our individual YMCAs and the collective strength of NJ YMCAs to better serve the people of New Jersey. For more information, please contact Bill Lovett, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.njymca.org.
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading charitable 501(c)3 organizations. Our programs and services are open to all through our financial assistance programs made possible through the generosity of our members, donors and partners. To help us help others, make your tax-deductible donation today at www.theSAY.org