The Children’s Center, a service of Parrish Medical Center, has received a $100,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF Foundation). The two-year grant will enable the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Early Childhood program to be implemented throughout Brevard County. CATCH Early Childhood is a preschool-based healthy nutrition and physical activity program that directly addresses the childhood obesity epidemic by providing an environment where physical activity, health education, gardening and healthy eating behaviors are valued and taught.
With the support from collaborating partners, Brevard Public Schools and the Early Learning Coalition of Brevard, the evidence-based program will promote healthy lifestyle habits in up to 2,500 preschool children and their families within the two-year project.
The CATCH Early Childhood program was chosen as a part of the overall wellness plan for the children receiving services at The Children’s Center as it fits within the vision—to build strong families for life—as well as the vision of lead agency Parrish Medical Center, Healing Families— Healing Communities®.
Incorporating healthy habits in the early years is crucial to childhood development and long-term health and wellness. “Young children learn through play. This project will integrate healthy behaviors into everyday routines and activities, both in the preschool environment and at home, ultimately leading to a healthier community,” states Lori Duester, Children’s Center manager and project administrator.
Through its Embrace a Healthy Florida childhood obesity initiative, the BCBSF Foundation is addressing the causes of childhood obesity through community engagement in six communities across Florida and through grants to support promising practices and applied research.
“National statistics indicate that childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. This troubling trend is documented in Florida, too,” said Susan B. Towler, vice president, BCBSF Foundation. “We are excited to partner with The Children’s Center to eliminate this widespread threat to children, families, communities and the healthcare system,” said Towler.
The Children’s Center, an affiliate of Parrish Medical Center and located at 5650 South Washington Ave. in Titusville, offers a variety of learning and early development programs for area children. The Children’s Center consists of six local partner agencies working together to meet the needs of children of all abilities. The Center annually serves nearly 1,300 children and their families. Visit The Children’s Center online at parrishchildrenscenter.com.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) incorporated in the state of Florida. The BCBSF Foundation, and its parent, BCBSF, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information on the BCBSF Foundation, please visit its Web site at http://www.bluefoundationfl.com or for more information on the childhood obesity initiative, visit www.embraceahealthyfl.org.