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February 21, 2017

A grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma will support implementation of evidence-based school health program in nine OKCPS schools.

AUSTIN – Nine Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) will begin implementing a program designed to help kids eat better and be more physically active, thanks to a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK). The program, called CATCH, has been proven to reduce child obesity and improve kids’ fitness, factors that have implications for overall health as well as academic success. Oklahoma has the 14th highest childhood obesity rate in the nation at more than 17 percent among children ages 10-17, according to Trust for America’s Health.

“Oklahoma City Public Schools is committed to providing students with a healthy environment to learn, grow, and achieve success,” said Dawn Chernicky, Health & Physical Education Coordinator for OKCPS. “Thanks to CATCH Global Foundation and the funding provided by BCBSOK, we will be able to provide proper nutrition curriculum, health education, and opportunities for increased physical activity so that all students can benefit from an active, healthy lifestyle.”

The grant was awarded to CATCH Global Foundation as part of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative from BCBSOK, and is the second such grant to go toward putting CATCH in Oklahoma schools—the program was implemented in Guymon and Carnegie schools last year. Those schools are already seeing positive outcomes from CATCH across a variety of health behaviors related to diet and physical activity; an evaluation found significant increases in students’ whole grain and water consumption, and showed that students are now more than twice as active during P.E. classes.

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is proud to support programs that benefit the lives of Oklahomans,” said Brooke Townsend, director community affairs, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. “With the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant, and a partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools, the CATCH Global Foundation is able to provide a quality program to students in our community.”

CATCH Global Foundation seeks to provide their program to districts like OKCPS that are at the greatest risk for obesity and chronic disease as part of the “CATCH Promise” initiative. The Foundation has identified 75 at-risk districts across the nation based on criteria that include overall enrollment figures, free and reduced lunch eligibility, and student health status. When these districts demonstrate a desire to take action, CATCH fulfills their “promise” to help them find the funding and local support needed to successfully implement their evidence-based program. OKCPS is the 14th school district now supported by the CATCH Promise, which is made possible in part by founding partners at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), RGK Foundation, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

“The CATCH Promise formalizes our long-standing commitment to address the social justice issue that underlies health disparities. That is, communities that most need CATCH are often those with the fewest resources,” said Duncan Van Dusen, executive director of CATCH Global Foundation. “Crucial to the success of this work is the generosity of our founding partners and local organizations like BCBSOK who support community-driven health initiatives like CATCH that have a proven track record of success.”

Teachers from the nine OKCPS campuses will receive CATCH training February 20-21 and will begin fully implementing the program, serving approximately 4,000 kids, immediately.