CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Schools across Tennessee crossed the finish line on another year with BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools, with 23 of 330 participating schools earning “Extra Mile” status by surpassing the program requirements for physical activity.

BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools seeks to address the growing trend of childhood obesity by teaching K-5 students the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. The program requires classes to walk at least 5 minutes a day for 12 weeks each semester, while Extra Mile Schools walk at least 10 minutes a day, adding up to at least 600 minutes or 40 miles during a 12-week period.

“We congratulate these schools on their great achievements and for their commitment to keeping students healthy and active,” said Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which helped develop the program. “Schools that embrace this program by walking five minutes or more every day play a significant role in decreasing childhood obesity in Tennessee.”

This year’s “Extra Mile Schools” are:

• Benton Elementary, Benton, Tenn.

• Bobby Ray Memorial Elementary, McMinnville, Tenn.

• Bolivar Elementary, Bolivar, Tenn.

• Cowan Elementary, Winchester, Tenn.

• Decherd Elementary, Decherd, Tenn.

• Dogwood Elementary, Germantown, Tenn.

• Fairview Elementary, Heiskell, Tenn.

• George Witten Elementary, Hendersonville, Tenn.

• Howard Elementary, Gallatin, Tenn.

• Ingram Sowell Elementary, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

• Michie Elementary, Michie, Tenn.

• Mount Carmel Elementary, Carmel, Tenn.

• Newport Elementary, Newport, Tenn.

• Northaven Elementary, Memphis, Tenn.

• Randolph Howell Elementary, Columbia, Tenn.

• Sea Isle Elementary, Memphis, Tenn.

• Sewanee Elementary, Sewanee, Tenn.

• Smithville Elementary, Smithville, Tenn.

• South Polk Elementary, Old Fort, Tenn.

• Sweetwater Elementary, Sweetwater, Tenn.

• Taylor Stratton Elementary, Madison, Tenn.

• Whites Elementary, Savannah, Tenn.

• Winfield Elementary, Winfield, Tenn.

BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools began in 2005 as a 12-week program in 34 pilot schools across select counties. The voluntary in-school walking program for students, teachers, staff and administrators is available to all K – 5 classrooms across the state. In the 2008-2009 school year, approximately 146,000 students at more than 330 Tennessee elementary schools participated in the walking program.

Research conducted by Coordinated School Heath and the Tennessee Department of Health reports that 43 percent of children in Tennessee are either at risk of being overweight or are overweight. In addition to encouraging students to institute an active lifestyle at a young age, the program has the potential for immediate benefits. In an end-of-year survey, 76 percent of participants said they noticed physical changes among their students since beginning the program, with nearly 60 percent reporting increased energy in their students.

About Blue Cross WalkingWorks for Schools

Blue Cross WalkingWorks for Schools was developed by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, in partnership with FedEx, the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools was created to address the growing trend of decreased physical activity in the lives of our young people by teaching children in grades K-5 the benefits of proper exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. For more information on how to become a part of the WalkingWorks or Extra Mile School programs, visit www.WalkingWorksForSchoolsTN.com.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.