CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Students in 80 Tennessee elementary schools will begin learning about their bodies and how to keep them healthy this school year from characters with names like Pepto, the stomach and Windy, the lungs.

The three-year collaboration between the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation and the state Office of Coordinated School Health will implement The OrganWise Guys program in 150 schools by 2014 to help combat childhood obesity. The OrganWise Guys is a comprehensive, evidence-based preschool and elementary school curriculum built around a group of engaging characters that personify the major organs of the body to teach children and adults about the importance of eating well and being physically active.

“Characters like Hardy Heart and Peter Pancreas teach students to make choices that will keep their own organs healthy,” said Calvin Anderson, BlueCross’ senior vice president of corporate affairs and executive director of the Foundation. “The OrganWise Guys is a proven program for teaching children valuable lifelong health habits that they can easily integrate into their daily routines.”

About one third of children in America are considered obese or overweight. The cast of The OrganWise Guys characters empower children, as young as 3 years old, as well as adults, to be “healthy and smart from the inside out” by teaching them what they can do to stay healthy. Their motto is, “We love who we live in, so please take care of us!”

The Foundation is funding the program through a three-year grant totaling $755,000. The Office of Coordinated School Health has chosen the participating schools, based on need, location and availability of staff/resources. The OrganWise Guys grant expands the Foundation’s Shape the State program, begun in 2011, that last year brought a nationally acclaimed physical education curriculum into 20 Tennessee middle schools.

About Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, Inc. (THF) was established in December, 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. THF awards grants focused on high-impact initiatives across the state, which promote healthy lifestyle choices and help control health care costs for all Tennessee residents. Working with civic and economic partners, THF is dedicated to the support of research, innovative programs and creative approaches to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans for generations to come.

About Tennessee Office of Coordinated School Health

The Office of Coordinated School Health (OCSH) was established by the Tennessee Department of Education in February 2001. The primary mission of the office is to improve student health outcomes as well as support the connection between good health practices, academic achievement and lifetime wellness. The OCSH partners with the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of School Health. With the passage of T.C.A. Section 49-1-1002 in 2000, authorization and funding for CSH was established. Additional funding has been provided by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About The OrganWise Guys, Inc.

Since 1993, The OrganWise Guys Inc. (OWG INC) has partnered with a variety of public and private entities to bring science-based nutrition, physical activity, and other lifestyle behavior messages to children and adults. Their specialty is combining a depth of knowledge of the research on nutrition and preventive health care practices with creative, attention-getting, curricula-linked resources that challenge learners to change their behavior. Through The OrganWise Guys Comprehensive School Program, OWG INC is working to improve children’s health, fitness, and academic performance while reducing childhood obesity rates.

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.