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YWCA National Capital Area Awarded $25,000 Grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield for EmpowerFit Community Health and Wellness Programs

Washington, DC (August 9, 2012) - The YWCA National Capital Area (NCA) has received a $25,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to help support its health and wellness "EmpowerFit Community" program initiative.

The programs are designed to address health disparities in Washington, D.C., by providing free or affordable fitness alternatives for residents who are at-risk for health disparities, including D.C.'s highest area with obesity - Wards 7 and 8. The program employs creative nutrition education and innovative fitness activities that are easily accessible, regardless of age or fitness level. In addition to fitness classes, this program provides nutrition classes and community workshops dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles.

"We are truly honored to have been chosen by CareFirst as a 2012 grant recipient and community partner," said Tamara Smith, CEO of the YWCA NCA. "We are both working to find innovative ways to fight obesity and reduce the chronic diseases associated with it, and with this grant we are going to be able to provide free fitness alternatives and nutrition education for those who need it most in Washington, D.C."

The CareFirst grant will help support at least four of the YWCA NCA's existing EmpowerFit Community sites - Hubbard Place, a low-income housing facility where the YWCA NCA offers fitness classes, homework assistance and mentoring to African-American girls between the ages of 12 and 18; Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Care, a facility that serves immigrant Latino women and their children; Mayfair Mansions, a low-income housing facility that serves African-American and Latino adults; and, Wheeler Terrace, a housing community in Ward 8 that is home to the YWCA NCA's Soccer for Success program, which is offered to youth, ages 5-12, and teaches them the game of soccer, while also providing nutrition information for both players and parents.

"We are excited to support the YWCA of the National Capital Area and their effort to promote health and wellness programs for the Washington, D.C., area," said Maria Harris Tildon, CareFirst's Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Community Affairs. "Addressing health disparities in Washington, D.C., is part of our regional effort to bolster health and wellness initiatives in the communities we serve, and programs such as the "EmpowerFit Community" encourage families to live an active and healthy lifestyle."

The EmpowerFit Community program was developed in accordance with the U.S. government's Healthy People 2020 Physical Activity guidelines, established to provide a measurement system for aerobic and muscle training activities. The activities are delivered through established community partnerships, and they are the foundation for delivering program offerings to underserved, low-income and minority populations. The partners directly serve the targeted demographics and they help recruit participants for "EmpowerFit Community" health and nutrition classes. The YWCA NCA conducts an initial assessment of the population's needs and then designs the physical activities and health and nutrition education that will be offered each week. At the midpoint of the program and again at the end of the program, the YWCA staff conducts surveys that have both quantitative and qualitative measurements.

About the YWCA NCA
The YWCA National Capital Area's mission is eliminating racism and empowering women, while promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. To that end, the vision is to behold a community that reaches out to those in need, provides opportunities, cultivates healthy lifestyles, challenges social stereotypes and values diversity and equality.

About CareFirst
In its 75th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.4 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2011, CareFirst contributed $51 million to community programs designed to increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our web site at or follow us on Twitter:

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