We believe all Rhode Islanders deserve access to high-quality and affordable healthcare. The BlueAngel Community Health Grant program—an annual, competitive grant program—allows us to extend our reach beyond our membership to address critical health issues in Rhode Island. We achieve this by partnering with community-based agencies that are trying to break down barriers to good health created by cost, culture, miscommunication, system structure, and lack of education.
The BlueAngel Community Health Grant program is the cornerstone of our Community Investment activities at Blue Cross. We're proud of the organizations we've worked with and the results that have been achieved since we began offering grants more than 10 years ago. This year, Blue Cross is celebrating its 75th anniversary of providing high-quality coverage and peace of mind to thousands of Rhode Island families.
As we celebrate 75 years of service to the Rhode Island community, we want everyone to know that we intend to be here for Rhode Islanders for the next 75 years—and more. With that in mind, we have decided to make 2014 all about our future—Rhode Island's children—and in particular, the urgent issue of childhood obesity. Preventing obesity during childhood is critical since health habits often last into adulthood.
Here are five reasons why we believe childhood obesity is one of the most critical issues facing our children and our state:
- According to Rhode Island Kids Count, one in every six children in Rhode Island enters kindergarten overweight or obese.
- Today, childhood obesity is projected to cost children five years of their lives. If youth health continues on its current path, this generation will be the first to not live longer than their parents.
- Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, joint pain and a host of other chronic health problems. Aside from obesity’s physical consequences, obese children and youth have lower self-esteem and lower self-confidence than their peers, are susceptible to mental health and psychological conditions such as depression, and may experience social marginalization and discrimination.
- The childhood obesity epidemic is particularly severe in communities of color. Nationally, more than 39 percent of Latino and African-American children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared with about 28 percent of Caucasian children. There are also significant disparities in access to healthy foods and safe places to play among these communities.
- Childhood obesity costs up to $14 billion per year in direct healthcare costs.
By collaborating with organizations that are working to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity, we hope to play a role in making our state healthier and stronger while saving lives and easing the financial strain on our already overburdened healthcare system.
The 2014 funding cycle is now closed. Please visit our website next summer for more information on how to apply for a 2015 grant.
The BlueAngel Community Health Grants are made possible by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Fund, a donor-advised fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.