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Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Anthem Foundation Improve Health & Wellness Factors among Today's Youth to Create Healthier Future Generations
Leaders in health and youth development tackle complex health issues with proven, community-based programming and whole-child approach
(June 07, 2018)

ATLANTA, June 7, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Since 2010, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Anthem Foundation have teamed up to deliver health promotion and programming that promotes the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition, and enables youth to build the skills needed to overcome environmental factors that can negatively impact health and wellness. Through the partnership, Boys & Girls Clubs have made significant strides in enabling youth to reach their full potential as healthy, productive adults.

Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., provides support for Boys & Girls Clubs of America's proven health and wellness program, Triple Play: A Game Plan for the Mind, Body and Soul. Triple Play delivers on the belief that whole child health fosters young people’s ability to gain diverse knowledge, skills, and protective factors that enable them to overcome barriers to wellness and positively impact their future health.

"At Anthem, we are working to ensure all Americans have an opportunity to live a healthier life, and that includes our country's youth," said Craig Samitt, MD, chief clinical officer, Anthem. "Through our Foundation's collaboration with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we are taking a proactive approach to adolescent health that takes into consideration social, health, and environmental factors that impact wellbeing, and providing access to resources and support that fosters a greater awareness about the benefits of leading a healthier lifestyle that can positively impact their future."



Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., provides support for BGCA's proven health and wellness program, Triple Play: A Game Plan for the Mind, Body and Soul. Triple Play delivers on the belief that whole child health fosters young people's ability to gain diverse knowledge, skills, and protective factors that enable them to overcome barriers to wellness and positively impact their future health. Triple Play provides health promotion, which encompasses health education, health literacy and a range of social and environmental interventions designed to benefit and protect health and quality of life.

This approach is critical now, more than ever, as some experts believe kids today will be the first generation not to live longer than their parents1. Research shows that environmental factors, or Social Determinants of Health, have a profound impact on health. This refers to the environments where individuals live, work and play. Adolescents are particularity sensitive to negative social and environmental conditions, so social and emotional skill-building is critically important for youth in communities with poor SDH, such as safety, trauma, housing and income.

BGCA research demonstrates that Triple Play promotes behaviors and attitudes that positively impact the health of youth today and build the social and emotional skills that can positively impact their health in the future. Youth who participate in Triple Play report double-digit increases in physical activity, improved eating habits and improved relationships with their peers, which have all been linked to positive long-term health outcomes. To build on this foundation of impact, BGCA will roll out new curriculum during summer 2018 to continue improving long-term health outcomes.

"Anthem Foundation's continued support of Triple Play has enabled us to continuously build and implement a whole child development approach," said Jennifer Bateman, National Vice President of Youth Development Programs for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "Through the partnership, we're enabling all youth in all communities the opportunity to develop the healthy habits, and social and emotional skills to lead a healthy lifestyle for life."

Through Triple Play, the organizations aim to create positive outcomes for youth, families and communities that are sustained over time. Together, the partnership seeks to level the playing field to enable all youth to achieve great futures.

TRIPLE PLAY: GAME PLAN FOR MIND, BODY AND SOUL
Triple Play, co-sponsored by Anthem Foundation and founding partner The Coca Cola Company, promotes the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition through the program's three components: mind, body and soul. In 2013, Anthem Foundation provided groundbreaking support, with a five-year, $10 million commitment that has been instrumental in enabling BGCA to further its Great Futures Impact Plan in the area of health and wellness.

Triple Play approaches wellness with a comprehensive, multi-dimensional curriculum designed to help youth create opportunities to take charge of their personal health and wellness. Club members receive evidence-informed health promotion and programming, delivered in a fun and engaging environment that enable youth to develop the most critical social and emotional skills that are core to success in all areas of their development.

Social and Emotional Development (SED) Skills
In addition to providing fun and engaging physical activities, Triple Play helps kids build a variety of important skills like impulse control, self-efficacy, self-confidence and decision-making, as well as relationship building, teamwork, and empathy. Delivered through the Club environment, with support from caring youth development professionals, Triple Play provides health promotion through practices that enable young people to develop social and emotional development (SED) skills that are critical to all aspects of their development and health. The foundation of Triple Play provides opportunities essential for youth to be successful in all areas of their present and future lives, including education, leadership and service, and workforce development.

Health and Wellness Outcomes
Through BGCA's National Youth Outcomes Initiative, which measures Club and program impact using a common set of research-informed indicators, research shows that Boys & Girls Clubs that participate in the Triple Play program have seen significant improvements in the habits of Club members. Recent impact metrics include:

  • A majority (66 percent) of Club youth report eating two or more servings of fruit per day, compared to 32 percent of youth nationally.
  • Two times as many Club kids consume three or more servings of vegetables everyday (32 percent compared to 15 percent nationally).
  • Seventy-nine percent of Club youth report they have never drank alcohol, compared to only 37 percent of youth nationally.
  • More than two-thirds (83 percent) of Club youth report they have never used marijuana, compared to 61 percent of youth nationally.
  • After participating in Triple Play, the number of Club members who engaged in vigorous activity for an hour or more at least five times per week increased by 35 percent (no change among control group).

Impact on Health in Adulthood
The positive impact of the Triple Play program is even more significant when considered how health behaviors during adolescence can impact health in adulthood.  

  • Poor health in childhood affects other critical aspects of a child's life, including their education via school readiness and attendance. Education can affect our lifespan, our income, where we live and what happens to our children2.
  • Studies show healthy eating and physical activity are associated with higher self-reported grades. Comparatively, sedentary, substance-use, sexual risk, violence-related, and suicide-related behaviors were associated with lower self-reported grades3.
  • Abuse of alcohol and drugs can negatively impact cognitive growth of the teenage brain during a critical time of development. Teens who abuse these substances are more likely to engage in risky sexual activity, drive under the influence, abuse multiple substances and commit crimes. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is linked to physical and mental health problems, poor academic performance and disengagement from peers, family, schools and community. The negative consequences of teen alcohol and drug abuse can carry over into adulthood4.

STATE OF HEALTH & WELLBEING OF AMERICA'S YOUTH
Many youth-oriented health and wellness programs have historically focused on physical fitness and nutrition education. However, there are many underlying factors that contribute to a person's overall health and risk for health concerns, including: SDH or environmental factors (where you live, work, learn, and play); health behaviors, like diet and exercise, stress factors, alcohol and drug use; socio-economic status; and physical attributes and family history.

Despite a consistent upward trend for life expectancy during the past thousand years, today's rates of chronic disease and health crises, like opioid addiction, put the U.S. in a position to face a potential decline in life expectancy.  The state of youth health today creates cause for alarm:

  • The percent of children and adolescents with obesity – a major contributor to chronic disease – has more than tripled since the 1970s5. To tackle this alarming statistic, many organizations have focused on instilling young people with health and wellness education, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America who pioneered the Triple Play program in 2005.
  • Today, there are signs that obesity rates are starting to decline, particularly among children from low-income families. Collectively, many organizations have made strides to resolve the nation's obesity problem. Yet more than 12 million U.S. children are still obese — one out of every six children.5
  • In addition to obesity, children today face significantly higher rates of anxiety and depression. These mental health concerns have been steadily increasing among young people in America for the past 50 to 70 years.6 As the U.S. also copes with today's large-scale substance abuse epidemic, our youth's physical and mental wellbeing are tantamount to our nation's future success.

Impact of Social Determinants of Health
Research shows that Social Determinants of Health (SDH), the conditions in the environment in which youth live, learn, and play, have a profound impact on overall development9 and future health. For youth growing up in environments with poor SDH, where there's an abundance of negative factors and social and economic barriers, the impact can be grave.

The partnership between BGCA and Anthem Foundation tackles these issues through whole-child health and wellness programming that reaches the kids and teens who need it most. Through 4,300 Club sites nationwide and on U.S. military installations around the globe, Boys & Girls Clubs serve a diverse population of youth in all types of communities. For many Club members, this may mean growing up in a community with poor environmental factors and a lack of social and economic opportunities. This puts them at a higher risk for negative health outcomes in adulthood. As such, it's critical to provide access to safe and affordable out-of-school time programming and opportunities that equip youth with the necessary skills and social and emotional development to protect against these negative factors and create positive opportunities for themselves and future generations. By taking health and wellness beyond physical activity and nutrition, Triple Play enables youth to take advantage of the opportunities that bring about positive change in themselves and their community.

A SHIFT IN APPROACH, BACKED BY SCIENCE
The initial Triple Play program launched more than a dozen years ago. As the landscape for youth and health challenges evolve, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to developing relevant and impactful curricula that drive positive outcomes for youth. With support from Anthem Foundation, BGCA has been able to leverage scientific evidence to identify the specific social and emotional development skillsets that enable healthier futures.

This summer, Triple Play will roll out seven new courses that help develop and foster the protective factors youth need to overturn cycles of inequity. These skillsets are integrated into Club practices through the Triple Play program and informal learning experiences to help ensure that youth have opportunities to practice and apply these skills within a safe and supportive environment, which enables them to transfer and apply them in their home, school and community settings.

The new curriculum is based upon three primary pillars:

  • Daily Challenges: Intentional focus on physical literacy: Ability - Increasing capability in basic movement skills and overall fitness; Confidence - the knowledge of the ability to play sports or enjoy other physical activities; and Motivation - the intrinsic enthusiasm for physical activity for members to be physically active for life.
  • Social Recreation: Emphasis on social and emotional development, or the social, cognitive, and behavioral skills that youth need to be healthy and productive. There is an explicit focus on emotional regulation, healthy relationships (with self and others), and responsible decision-making.
  • Healthy Habits: Addresses the ways an individual's health behaviors are influenced by personal beliefs and exposure to positive modeling. In addition to nutrition education, activities focus on helping youth assess, practice, identify, consider, and recognize health behaviors and messages.

ABOUT THE PARTNERSHIP
Anthem Foundation's five-year, $10 million commitment builds upon a longstanding relationship with Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Together, the organizations are working to create a healthier generation that has the skills necessary to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The announcement of Anthem Foundation's groundbreaking support marked the first public partnership of the Great Futures Campaign.

ABOUT BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA
For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, 4,300 Clubs serve 4 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Club programs promote academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at Facebook and Twitter.

About Anthem Foundation
The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of Anthem, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem, 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 year-round Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates' pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at http://anthemfoundation.tumblr.com.

1 http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr043743#t=article
2 Annie E. Casey Foundation 2017 KIDS Count Data book
3 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6635a1.htm?s_cid=mm6635a1_w
4 https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/drugid/ration-03.html
5
https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm
5 https://stateofobesity.org/childhood-obesity-trends/
6 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201001/the-decline-play-and-rise-in-childrens-mental-disorders
9
http://www.amchp.org/programsandtopics/AdolescentHealth/Documents/June-JulyAYAHCenterBulletin.pdf           
10 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53409/

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). (PRNewsfoto/Boys & Girls Clubs of America)

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SOURCE Boys & Girls Clubs of America

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