Additional $3.2 Million Grant from WellPoint Foundation Will Expand Intergenerational Program Fighting Obesity

  Additional $3.2 Million Grant from WellPoint Foundation Will Expand
  Intergenerational Program Fighting Obesity

     Results show program improving health of youth and adult volunteers

Business Wire

INDIANAPOLIS & ST. LOUIS -- March 18, 2013

Nearly 6,200 children and more than 900 adults, age 50-plus in 18 cities
across 14 states are winning in the battle against obesity, thanks to CATCH
Healthy Habits, a unique intergenerational program that encourages healthy
eating and active living.

The program officially launched in 2011 when the WellPoint Foundation funded a
$2.7 million, two-year grant to the OASIS Institute (OASIS). During the grant
period, the program was expanded to 14 states and reached 142 percent of its
original target of participation (7,100 children and older adults versus 5,000
originally estimated).

Today, WellPoint Foundation renewed its commitment with an additional grant of
$3.2 million for 2013 and 2014, to strengthen and expand the program, bringing
it to a total of more than 150 locations in 19 cities across 15 states, with
the addition of sites in Tucson, Ariz. and Sacramento, Calif.

Obesity-related expenses and complications are among the nation’s most
pressing public health challenges. According to the United States Centers for
Disease Control (CDC), 35 percent of people age 50 and older lead sedentary
lifestyles, and obesity rates in the United States have tripled in the last
three decades among children age 6-11.

In the CATCH Healthy Habits program, teams of volunteers age 50-plus work with
children in kindergarten through the fifth grade in weekly one-hour sessions
after school and during the summer. They play active games, learn about food
choices and make healthy snacks. (VIDEO about CATCH Healthy Habits)

“Living a healthy life is as simple to describe as it is difficult to
practice,” said Lance Chrisman, executive director of the WellPoint
Foundation. “Eat right. Get enough exercise. Practice moderation. Starting and
practicing these habits – whether you are young or old – are some of the most
important actions you can take to live your best life possible. That’s why
we’re excited to continue our support of the CATCH Healthy Habits program.”

In 2013-2014, OASIS will continue working with its primary partner, Boys &
Girls Clubs of America, along with YMCAs, schools and other community partners
to serve 8,500 children and adults in 150 locations in all 19 cities where
CATCH Healthy Habits will operate.

“CATCH Healthy Habits helps combat the serious issue of obesity for two
generations, but also benefits the adults who volunteer,” said Marcia Kerz,
president of the OASIS Institute. “Research shows that volunteers live longer,
healthier lives than those who do not volunteer. We feel that CATCH Healthy
Habits is a successful national model for improving the lives of both children
and adults age 50-plus who benefit from the program.”

Proven results

The WellPoint Foundation has been instrumental in supporting OASIS’ efforts to
develop CATCH Healthy Habits (originally known as Active Generations) since
2008. In the original pilot, more than 200 volunteers and 1,000 children in
grades three to five participated in programs in California, Missouri, New
York, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

At the core of the program is the Coordinated Approach to Child Health, or
CATCH, an evidence-based, nationally-recognized curriculum created by research
teams from the University of California at San Diego, University of Minnesota,
Tulane University and the University of Texas. CATCH measures outcomes for
children, such as how the program improves their understanding of healthy food
choices and physical activity. The curriculum was adapted for OASIS so that
older adults could serve as volunteer mentors to deliver the program.

Evaluation results from 2011 and 2012 show that CATCH Healthy Habits is
working, with improvements in physical activity and nutrition demonstrated by
both the adult volunteer-facilitators and child participants.

By the end of the first grant period in 2012, 88 percent, or 801 adults age
50-plus,  met the CDC recommendations for moderate-to- vigorous physical
activity at the end of the grant, surpassing the initiative’s target of 67
percent.

Survey results also indicate that adults involved in the program are also
making positive dietary changes. The percentage of adults who reported reading
nutrition labels increased by 10 percent (from baseline); eating three or more
vegetables per day increased by 8 percent; and two or more fruits a day by 4
percent.

“This program has proven to be a model for how we can leverage the talents and
energies of older Americans nationwide to combat obesity, and we can’t wait to
bring it to more cities,” Chrisman said.

Children in CATCH Healthy Habits programming similarly exceeded physical
activity intensity standards set for professionally-led physical education
classes by 12 percent (62 percent observed compared to 50 percent standard).
The students’ reading of nutrition labels also increased by 10 percent (from
baseline) and the number of days eating high-fat foods decreased by 9 percent.

“The CATCH program teaches kids and adults that you can do something about
your health if you have a plan and stay committed to it,” said Lois Sanabria,
a CATCH Healthy Habits volunteer in the Bronx, N.Y. “If you show a person how
to do something, they’re more inclined to get it.”

Like Lois, a vast majority of program participants report enjoying the program
(83 percent of kids and 97 percent of adults), with over 90 percent of adult
volunteers staying committed to the program. To date, adults have contributed
more than 26,500 volunteer hours valued at more than $484,000.

Award Winning

CATCH Healthy Habits has received national and local recognition as a unique
program of excellence that impacts child and adult health, and in 2012 was
named a Program of Distinction by Generations United, a national organization
focused on promoting life-improving intergenerational programs and policies.

Adults interested in volunteering in the CATCH Healthy Habits program should
contact OASIS at (314) 862-2933, email pholtgrave@oasisnet.org, or visit
www.oasisnet.org.

About the WellPoint Foundation

The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and
through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the
inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of
individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, Inc. and its
affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic
initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care
challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a
multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical
conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care
in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long
term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes
prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations
and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual
associate giving campaign and provides a 50 percent match of associates’
campaign pledges. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation, please visit
www.wellpointfoundation.org.

About the OASIS Institute

OASIS is a national non-profit organization that promotes successful aging
through lifelong learning, health programs and volunteer engagement. The OASIS
vision is to see that adults age 50-plus across the country have opportunities
to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives. Founded in 1982,
OASIS has a national membership of more than 360,000 adults and serves 59,000
people annually through partnerships in 43 cities. The OASIS Institute,
nationally headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., is a member of the Social Impact
(S&I) 100 Index of top-performing non-profits. For more information, visit
www.oasisnet.org

Contact:

OASIS Institute
Mary G. Wilson, (314) 862-2933, x282
mgwilson@oasisnet.org
or
WellPoint Foundation
Scott Larrivee, (262) 523-4746
scott.larrivee@wellpoint.com
 
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