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Partnership for Children receives grant to increase physical activity

Published 6:31pm Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Partnership for Children of the Foothills has received a $5,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation to increase outdoor learning time and physical activity at three child care centers in McDowell, Rutherford and Polk counties.

Little Wonders, Kid’s Kingdom and Tots and Toddlers will each complete a POEMS assessment, which measures the quality of the current playground, and will identify strategies for bringing more classroom activities outdoors.

Technical assistants will help the centers reach their identified goals and increase outdoor learning time by 10-15 minutes a day by the end of the year. Small grants will be given to each center to purchase outdoor materials. The three centers impact 60 total 2- to 5-year-olds.

“Evidence has shown that children who engage in regular physical activity have fewer behavior problems in the classroom. Children are also more focused and learn more effectively outdoors,” said Barry Gold, executive director of the Partnership for Children. “By bringing some of the traditional indoor lesson plans outside and by increasing the amount of time spent outside either learning or engaged in free-play physical activities, these children will increase their daily physical activity and connection with nature.”

“The Partnership for Children of the Foothills is aligned with our mission of improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians,” said Kathy Higgins, president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. “What they are doing to positively impact the health of our citizens is critical work and the results of their efforts will help people live healthier lives.”

The Partnership for Children develops and funds programs that serve young children, their families, and the early childhood community. Technical assistance programs to child care facilities have focused recently on improving physical activity and nutrition, through center assessments, gardening projects, improving playgrounds, training for teachers and cooking classes.

Five playground projects have been completed or are underway in Rutherford County, two in Polk, and eight in McDowell.

Children who learn healthy eating and exercise habits at an early age are more likely to become healthy adults.
Among children ages 2-4, the percent who are overweight or obese in the region is similar to the state average of 31.9 percent, with 28.1 percent in McDowell, 29.9 percent in Rutherford, and 35.2 percent in Polk (2011 NC-NPASS).

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians.

The Foundation focuses on three key areas: improving health outcomes of populations served by safety net organizations; increasing physical activity and encouraging healthy eating habits; and increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations through free trainings and signature programs. More information is available at www.bcbsncfoundation.org.

– article submitted by Suzanne Metcalf

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