PROVIDENCE, RI– Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) is awarding one of six 2016 BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG) to the Boys & Girls Club of Providence. The $25,000 will support Soccer for Success, a program designed to teach young people healthy habits and life skills through the game of soccer. The program will engage 250 youth at six sites around the city.
Founded by the U.S Soccer Foundation, Soccer for Success has become a national movement—more than 555,000 children have participated in the program in more than 130 cities. The program uses soccer as a tool to address children’s health issues while promoting wellness in urban underserved communities. A recent study showed that Soccer for Success participants experience statistically significant greater health improvements in comparison to children enrolled in other non-athletic, non-nutrition-based afterschool programming.
The occurrence of childhood obesity in America has tripled, and today nearly one in three children between the ages of 2 and 19 years old are obese or overweight. Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, sleep apnea, joint pain, along with several other acute and chronic health problems. Aside from obesity’s physical consequences, obese children and youth are susceptible to unique social and psychological problems like stigmatization, bullying, and low self-esteem. Childhood obesity also costs up to $14 billion per year in direct healthcare costs.
For the third year in a row, the BlueAngel Community Health Grant program will focus on this critical issue. This year, six new grants and six transitional grants totaling $286,000 will be awarded to 2016 BACHG recipients.
“We are honored to award organizations that introduce and encourage healthy lifestyles to the youth here in Rhode Island,” said Carolyn Belisle, Managing Director of Community Relations at BCBSRI. “Blue Cross will continue to support programs that promote engaging in wellness activities to prevent the negative effects of childhood and adolescent obesity.”
The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Providence is to enable and inspire children and youth, especially those from diverse or difficult circumstances, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible, and healthy members of their community, the State of Rhode Island, and the nation. The U.S. Soccer Foundation, a leader in sports-based youth development, provides thousands of children with free afterschool programming three times per week for the entire school year through its Soccer for Success partnerships.
The BACHG program awards local organizations that teach and support healthy habits, from better nutrition to increased physical activity. BCBSRI accepts and reviews proposals for the BACHG program once a year. Each letter of intent received is reviewed to determine compliance with eligibility and funding priorities. Grant award winners were notified in December 2015 with funding beginning in January 2016.
About the BACHG Program
The BACHG program was launched in 2002 and since then has invested more than $3 million into quality programs that have touched the lives of more than 257,000 people in the state. The program is a key component in BCBSRI’s vision of enhancing the quality of life for Rhode Islanders by increasing the quality of and access to healthcare services. The BACHGs are made possible by the BCBSRI Community Health Fund, a corporate donor-advised fund of The Rhode Island Foundation.
About Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state’s leading health insurer and covers more than 450,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsri.com, follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI, and like us on Facebook at fb.com/bcbsri.