MONTCLAIR, N.J.--()--The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance announced today a $2.25 million expansion grant for Healthy U – a collaborative initiative to combat the obesity epidemic among New Jersey children. Over the next three and a half years, Healthy U will expand to impact approximately 40,000 children statewide. In addition to the after-school setting, the program will now be offered in two new settings, pre-school and school-based for the first time in the history of the program.
“Healthy U is an innovative program that is closely in tune with the YMCA’s mission to help children lead healthy lives”
“Since its inception in 2008, the Healthy U program has equipped thousands of New Jersey children and their families with nutritional education and increased physical activity to help them lead a healthy life,” said Robert A. Marino, Chairman and CEO of Horizon BCBSNJ and Chairman of the Board of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. “Today, the Foundation joins with the YMCA Alliance in renewing and building upon our commitment to combat obesity.”
Healthy U uses the evidence-based CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) curriculum to help children adopt behavior changes that promote healthy eating and physical activity. This award-winning curriculum was created in 1992 by national education and child health experts at the University of Texas. In its first phase, Healthy U has been implemented in all 41 member Ys across New Jersey, and more than 20,000 children ages 5 to 13 have participated in the program at over 400 afterschool sites. The four-year evaluation results showed that the program is effective and working, children are adding more fruits and vegetables to their diets, are cutting back on TV and computer time and are being physically active more each day.
“With this additional investment from the Foundation, the Healthy U program will be expanded to more than 5,000 pre-school children, integrated into 50 public schools that will reach 15,000 children at the elementary level, and maintained as an afterschool program at 400 Y sites for 20,000 children,” Marino said.
“Healthy U is an innovative program that is closely in tune with the YMCA’s mission to help children lead healthy lives,” said William Lovett, Executive Director of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance. “Children have enjoyed it, and we’ve seen how the program’s emphasis on parental involvement really accelerates progress toward positive behavior changes. The Y is excited about building out this program and implementing age-specific programming for the younger children new to Healthy U. We applaud The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey for its generous support and its commitment to a generation of healthier children.”
“New Jersey’s children face an obesity epidemic and programs like Healthy U are making marked improvements in their health,” said Dr. Arturo Brito, Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Health. “I congratulate The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance for expanding Healthy U so that more children may participate.”
CATCH is an evidence-based, coordinated school health program designed to promote physical activity, healthy food choices and the prevention of tobacco use in children. The CATCH programs cover kids from pre-school through 8th grade and have been implemented in 8,500 schools and after-school organizations across America. By teaching children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun, CATCH has proven that establishing healthy habits in childhood can promote behavior changes that can last a lifetime.
About The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey:
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey promotes health, well-being and quality of life across our state by supporting charitable organizations. Since its inception in 2004, the Foundation has made more than 750 grants totaling more than $28 million dollars. For more information, visit www.horizonblue.com/foundation.
About the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance:
The New Jersey YMCA State Alliance is a statewide organization whose mission is to collaborate and work together on areas of mutual benefit to strengthen and enhance our individual YMCAs and the collective strength of NJ YMCAs to better serve the people of New Jersey. For more information, please contact Bill Lovett, Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.njymca.org.