CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – With North Carolina facing the fifth highest rate of childhood obesity in the country, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation today announced a three-year, $3 million partnership with The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), the state’s Smart Start organization. Through the partnership, the BCBSNC Foundation and NCPC will launch Shape NC: Healthy Starts for Young Children, a groundbreaking initiative that will tackle childhood obesity by focusing on young children, from birth through age five.
More than 31 percent of North Carolina’s children ages two to four are considered at risk for becoming overweight or are overweight. Shape NC will build upon existing NCPC networks across the state to target children in child care facilities, their families and child care professionals to increase knowledge and awareness of healthy nutrition and physical activity practices. In addition, the program will focus on changes in built environments, policies, and community partnerships.
“Shape NC is an answer to a staggering epidemic our state and nation are facing,” said Brad Wilson, chairman of the BCBSNC Foundation. “Bringing a program that reinforces the benefits of a healthy weight, nutritious foods, physical activity and healthy living to these children, their teachers and families is a powerful step in the right direction.”
Shape NC is built upon the foundation of several proven, existing programs, which the BCBSNC Foundation and NCPC have supported. These programs include the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self Assessment for Child Care (NAPSACC) developed by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) developed by North Carolina State University’s Natural Learning Initiative, and Be Active Kids®,a signature program of the BCBSNC Foundation focused on early childhood physical activity.
“Being healthy and fit in adulthood is largely determined by the communities in which we live as children,” said Stephanie Fanjul, president of NCPC. “Shape NC is about communities, especially child care communities, creating positive environments and making decisions that allow children to thrive and grow into healthy adults.”
“For the past 17 years, The North Carolina Partnership for Children has been a leader in the state for caring for and preparing our children for success,” said Kathy Higgins, BCBSNC Foundation president. “Their expertise, grassroots infrastructure and proven record for getting things done are the essential elements to impacting such a critical issue as childhood obesity, particularly in the young children birth through five that Shape NC will reach.”
The launch of Shape NC is a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to combat childhood obesity in North Carolina.
“The creation of Shape NC is an important start, but we're only going to win this fight against childhood obesity if we’re able to bring together the brightest minds and the best ideas from across the country and around the world,” added Wilson. “Through the Clinton Global Initiative, we will collaborate with an outstanding network of businesses and organizations, share best practices and turn ideas into action.”
About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation:
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a separate, independent nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. BCBSNC Foundation focus areas include: Health of Vulnerable Populations – improving health outcomes of populations served by safety-net organizations; Healthy Active Communities – increasing physical activity and encouraging healthy eating habits; and Community Impact through Nonprofit Excellence – increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. Since its inception in 2000, BCBSNC Foundation has invested more than $64 million into North Carolina communities. bcbsncfoundation.org
About Smart Start and The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.:
The earliest years of childhood are critical. Experiences during this time literally shape the structure of the brain. Because today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, parents and professionals, everyone has a stake in making sure all children have the experiences they need to thrive. Smart Start is the system that brings together all the people involved in a young child’s life—families, teachers, doctors, caregivers, social workers, and many others—to ensure every child has all they need for healthy growth and development. For more information, visit smartstart.org.