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Posted February 28, 2014
Florida Blue Foundation Funds All Children’s Hospital Teens Living Healthy Program
Florida Blue ACH Grant
(left to right) David Pizzo, Market President West Region of Florida Blue; Susan Towler, Vice President of Florida Blue Foundation and Executive Director of Corporate Social Responsibility; Pat Geraghty, chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Florida Blue; Dr. Raquel Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Associate Director of Medical Education at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine; Jenine Rabin, Executive Vice President of All Children's Hospital Foundation

All Children's Hospital will launch a new program aimed at helping teens achieve healthier lifestyles thanks to a $100,000 grant from The Florida Blue Foundation. 

The Teens Living Healthy program will be a school-based program initiative that includes weight management, nutrition education, goal-setting, mental health and fitness coaching for Pinellas County teens.

"We are here to help people and communities achieve better health-that's our mission," said Pat Geraghty, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Blue, who presented the funds to All Children's Hospital Foundation Executive VP Jenine Rabin. "We don't do that alone. We absolutely understand the power of partnerships and reaching out in the community to make that difference."

Access to obesity prevention programs has been extremely limited in Pinellas County, especially for teens. The Teens Living Healthy program will offer teens free one-on-one coaching through a team of health specialists, including a medical director, mental health coach, school nurse, program champion, registered dietitian, culinary expert and fitness expert. All Children's Hospital and Pinellas County Schools will select one high school to pilot the program, which will begin September 2014. Based on research outcomes, All Children's Hospital hopes to share this model and design a program that can be launched in other communities.

Dr. Raquel Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Associate Director of Medical Education at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, highlighted the grant's importance in helping ACH expand its efforts to prevent and treat pediatric obesity. "Here in Florida, we know that 1 in 4 children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese, and that number rises significantly among minority and low-income children. It's a chronic disease that we need to address much more aggressively.

"Reaching at-risk children within their schools and their community is what all of us here at ACH know is the next wave of healthcare," said Dr. Hernandez. "We are thankful to Florida Blue for sharing this vision with us and allowing us to build on the success already here with our Fit4AllKids program and other staff working on this issue. With Florida Blue's support, we will strive to build healthier lifestyles, healthier school campuses and healthier communities to be a leader in treating pediatric obesity."

Dr. Hernandez added that All Children's looks forward to building on its partnership with Pinellas County Schools to establish and grow the school-based program.

The Teens Living Healthy program will expand the success of the Fit4AllKids pediatric obesity initiative developed nearly a decade ago by the All Children's Hospital community education program.  It grew to include Fit4AllTeens, a community-based program led by ACH and held at YMCA of the Suncoast.

Ryleigh Long, a 16-year-old student at Clearwater High School who has become a spokesperson for Fit4AllTeens, spoke to leaders from ACH and Florida Blue about her participation in the program. "Until I joined the program I really never considered being healthy," she said, adding that her family and friends began to make healthier choices after seeing Ryleigh sustain her success. "I didn't know that the program would do such a big thing for my life."