The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is pleased to announce a second year of the National Fitness Challenge thanks to a generous $150,000 grant from the WellPoint Foundation. This year we will partner with over 20 agencies from across the United States who will provide more than 700 teenagers who are blind and visually impaired with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live a healthier and more active lifestyle.
“We are extremely pleased and excited to partner with the WellPoint Foundation to host a second year of the National Fitness Challenge. With the renewal of this grant we will be able to reach more teens with the ultimate goal of helping each participating teen become more active and fit by using fun and challenging physical activities,” said Mark Lucas, executive director of the United States Association of Blind Athletes. In order to keep track of each participants success, every agency submits baseline data and monthly updates that are used to create achievable fitness and weight loss goals for the teens to help them decrease their body mass index.
Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their abilities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.
“The WellPoint Foundation helps us continue meeting the company’s commitment to helping children and adults live active lives and avoid the health risks associated with sedentary lifestyles and obesity,” said Bill Smith, president and general manager of WellPoint’s Disability and Life business. “We believe no one should be denied the right to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits associated with exercise; therefore, we are very proud to once again partner with the USABA to ensure that vision impairments do not limit the recreational opportunities afforded to teenagers across the country.”
The funds from the WellPoint Foundation grant will provide each agency with sports equipment as well as fitness and nutrition coaches for teens particpating in the program.
The participating agencies in the USABA-WellPoint Foundation National Fitness Challenge include:
Braille Institute – Orange County Regional Center: California
Braille Institute – San Diego: California
California School for the Blind: California
Lions Center for the Blind: California
Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind: Colorado
State of Connecticut Board of Education Services for the Blind: Connecticut
Center for the Visually Impaired: Georgia
Georgia Blind Athletic Association: Georgia
Carmel Clay School District: Indiana
Indiana School for the Blind and the Visually Impaired: Indiana
Kentucky Association of Blind Athletes: Kentucky
Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments: Missouri
Missouri School for the Blind: Missouri
Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment, Inc.: New York
Lighthouse International: New York
The New York Institute for Special Education: New York
VISONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired: New York
Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Clovernook Center for the Blind: Ohio
Cleveland Sight Center: Ohio
Ohio School for the Blind: Ohio
Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped: Wisconsin
About United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA)
Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. USABA’s mission: to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information go to http://www.usaba.org
About WellPoint Foundation
The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, 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 annual associate giving campaign and provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation, please visit http://www.wellpointfoundation.org