NEW ORLEANS, LA – The City of New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBSLA) have been awarded a $50,000 Play Streets Grant to use in 4 locations to be determined across New Orleans. The grant is a collaboration between the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), who works with the private sector and its Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to end the childhood obesity epidemic in America. Funding will be awarded to NOHD to develop 5 recreation programming events at various parks and playground areas for kids to play.
“As a Let’s Move! city, New Orleans is committed to being one of the top 10 fittest cities by 2018. We appreciate the support of our community partners for the opportunity to provide children with safe places to play in our community as part of our Fit NOLA effort,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans.
“We’re committed to helping people in the community live healthier and happier lives. We are excited to work with the New Orleans Health Department to host Play Streets events to encourage kids to play and be active – a key step on the road to a healthier lifestyle,” says Christy Reeves, Executive Director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation.
Over the next year, NOHD will work with BCBSLA, BCBSA and PHA to hold Play Streets events in the community. This is part of a series of initiatives to promote a healthy lifestyle from NOHD and BCBSLA, which are also behind several other community-based programs.
New Orleans is taking bold steps to becoming a fit city and eliminating obesity in its local community. In 2012, NOHD hosted a series of forums to develop a Fit NOLA Partnership Shared Action Blueprint to achieve healthy weight and fitness for everyone in New Orleans. Over 100 community partners have joined the Fit NOLA Partnership to increase awareness, build capacity and set standards for nutrition and physical fitness. The Shared Action Blueprint will guide the Fit NOLA Partnership as it integrates healthy lifestyles in schools, childcare centers, healthcare, businesses, government and the community. Together, the New Orleans Community will achieve the Fit NOLA vision of becoming a top 10 fittest city.
BCBSLA is dedicated to helping people across the state be healthy. Its free Louisiana 2 Step program (www.Louisiana2Step.com) encourages all Louisianians to take two small steps, eat right and move more, to get healthy and stay healthy. Blue Cross also offers a companion program for kids 12 and under, 2 Step 4 Kids, to help kids get healthy through educational games and activities. Visit www.2Step4Kids.com to learn more.
With childhood obesity remaining a major problem in Louisiana, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation has partnered with the LSU AgCenter for more than seven years to offer the Smart Bodies program to kindergarten through fifth-grade students across the state. Smart Bodies integrates classroom activities with hands-on learning to teach children how to build strong bodies and develop active minds. Visit www.smartbodies.org for more information.
The impact on activity rates from Play Streets is expected to be significant. Pioneer programs have already shown that when given the choice between participating in Play Streets or a sedentary activity, the majority of children chose the more active option of Play Streets. The benefits went beyond children’s health, too. Local economies can profit from the increased foot traffic that Play Streets brings to the businesses in the area.
“Today in America, one in five kids doesn’t have access to a playground – that’s millions of children who can’t pick up a ball, run outside or have fun in a safe environment,” said PHA President and CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “We’re thrilled that New Orleans and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana are proactively tackling this challenge by creating new Play Streets. We can’t wait to see the initiative in action – to see kids running around these new spaces and to hear sounds of traffic replaced by sounds of kids at play.”
Details about the location and dates of the Play Streets events in New Orleans can be found online at www.ahealthieramerica.org/playstreets.
About the New Orleans Health Department
The New Orleans Health Department strives to protect, promote and improve the health of all New Orleanians so they can achieve their full potential. Through a data-driven approach, the New Orleans Health Department aims to improve population health and serve as a 21st century model for the nation.
In June 2012, Mayor Landrieu launched the Fit NOLA Partnership to increase awareness, build capacity and set standards on nutrition and physical activity in our community. The Fit NOLA Partnership currently includes over 100 community partners who are dedicated to implementing innovate programs and evidence-based policies in businesses, schools, childcare centers, healthcare, government and the community. Through the efforts of our partners and the greater community, New Orleans will achieve the Fit NOLA vision of becoming a top ten fittest city in the United States by 2018, the 300th anniversary of our city.
For more information about the New Orleans Health Department or the Fit NOLA Partnership, please visit http://www.nola.gov/RESIDENTS/Health-Department/. Follow the Fit NOLA Partnership on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FitNOLA.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the oldest and largest Louisiana-based health insurance company. Blue Cross is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders—and governed by a local Board of Directors. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to more than one out of every four Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employs nearly 2,000 Louisianians who are committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.
Learn more on the company’s website at www.bcbsla.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bluecrossla. Learn more about the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation on its website at www.OurHomeLouisiana.org.
About Partnership for a Healthier America
Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most importantly, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress its partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit www.aHealthierAmerica.org and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.
About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is a national federation of 38 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for 100 million members – one in three Americans. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com, connect with BCBSA on Facebook, check out BCBSA videos on YouTube or follow BCBSA on Twitter for up-to-date information.