Blue Shield of California and the American Heart Association (AHA) recently hosted their second annual “Make Time For Health” festival, a three – year program that encourages Oakland elementary students to focus on four pillars: a tobacco-free lifestyle, increased physical activity, emotional and social well-being and balanced nutrition.
There were eight activity stations that created an interactive and educational experience. One of the eight interactive stations was “Living Tobacco and Vape Free,” where children learned how tobacco damages their bodies and can lead to stroke and heart disease. Nearly 20% of pre-teens and teens believe that e-cigarettes are not harmful to their health — however, e-cigarettes contain as much nicotine as found in a pack of traditional cigarettes.
“It is important for us to encourage children to eat better, exercise often, and give them a clear message about the risks of tobacco products. These tobacco companies are developing marketing strategies to reach kids through flavored e-cigarettes,” said Paul Markovich, CEO of Blue Shield. “There are over 8,000 flavored e-cigarettes and their fruity smell and taste are becoming more appealing to the youth.
“In 2018, vaping by middle schoolers doubled from the previous year and E-cigarette use jumped by 78% (from 11.7% to 20.8%) among students from 2017 – 2018,” Markovich said.
Golden State Warriors’ Hype Man Franco Finn was in attendance alongside Blue Shield and AHA executives to motivate children to live a healthy lifestyle. Living a healthy lifestyle increases a child’s ability to focus on learning and improve their academic excellence.
According to the 2016 Physical Fitness Test Body Composition results, “about 43% of Oakland 5th graders were overweight and obese,” said Alden “Chip” McDonald, past board member of the American Heart Association. “AHA and Blue Shield are committed to promoting physical activity, and we want to inspire 3rd to 5th graders to maintain and develop an active lifestyle to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.”
The “Make Time For Health” festival is part of Blue Shield’s #80forOakland campaign that was created to celebrate the 80th anniversary and new headquarters in Oakland.