CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Twenty more Tennessee schools will soon receive a nationally acclaimed middle grades physical education program and exercise equipment – together valued at $10,000 for each school – from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.

Applications for the second year of the Foundation’s Shape the State grant program are being taken now through Sept. 4 from any public, private or parochial Tennessee school serving grades 6-8. Grant winners will be announced Sept. 12. The grant provides the curriculum, teacher training and equipment for each recipient school.

“This program is an important tool in our efforts to combat childhood obesity in Tennessee,” said Calvin Anderson, BlueCross senior vice president of corporate affairs, and executive director of the Foundation. “The first Shape the State schools had a successful implementation last year and we’re eager to see the next group join in.”

According to the state Department of Health, about 40 percent of Tennessee children are overweight or obese. Children who are obese are more likely to grow into obese adults, studies show. Obesity dramatically increases a person’s risk for dangerous health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shape the State brings the SPARK physical education program into schools and provides both training for PE teachers and exercise equipment for students.

SPARK was launched in 1989 after being developed by researchers at San Diego State University. Since then, its evidence-based curriculum has been used in public schools, YMCAs and other settings across the nation. The Foundation will also present winning schools an additional $1,000 to support PE, nutrition and wellness programs.

Schools can apply online at http://shapethestate.com/, or e-mail shapethestate@bcbst.com for more information.

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.