CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. —Tennessee elementary schools can now register for BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools, a free in-school walking program created to help combat childhood obesity by teaching the benefits of physical activity at an early age. Schools that want to participate for the 2008-2009 school year can register online at www.WalkingWorksForSchoolsTn.com through Aug. 1.

More than 180,000 students and 400 schools in Tennessee currently participate in BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools. An increasingly popular program for grades K-5 in Tennessee, BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools is being used in 74 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools aims to improve children’s health by adding activity to their daily routines. The program encourages classroom teachers and students to walk at least five minutes a day, equal to walking one lap around a track or a quarter mile, over a 12-week period during both semesters. After 12 weeks, participants will have walked at least 15 miles that they would not have walked otherwise.

“My students and I really looked forward to walking and talking as we exercised each school day and it became a part of our routine,” said a teacher who participated in the program. “There will be more students participating next year, and that says something for the power of the program.”

Participants have commented on the program’s ability to engage students in healthy exercise, while learning, communicating and making new friendships with classmates. And research shows that positive experiences with physical activity at a young age help lay the basis for being regularly active throughout life.

Teachers are sent all the materials they need to start walking with their class, including tracking posters to record progress and one pedometer for the class to use as an educational and motivational tool. Students get a WalkingWorks wristband to serve as a reminder to be active and make healthy choices. Teachers, students and parents can visit www.WalkingWorksForSchoolsTN.com for more nutritional and exercise information.

About BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools

BlueCross WalkingWorks for Schools was developed by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, in partnership with 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, 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.