By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Nearly half of the children in our area are overweight or obese. Now, a new collaborative effort is underway to combat the problem at local schools.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on a new initiative.

It’s called Healthy Futures.  The goal is to improve child wellness and decrease obesity among school-aged children.  Twenty schools in southeastern Pennsylvania will be the first to join the challenge.

Fourth grade students at Global Leadership Academy Charter School are getting their weight taken, and height measured, part of the kickoff to the new Healthy Futures initiative.

“I’m excited that we’re getting more healthier, getting more fit,” said Kennedy Williams, a fourth grader at Global Leadership Academy.

“While we know nutrition, exercise, and wellness are all a part of the equation for improving the health of our communities youth, few initiatives have tried to address all three as comprehensively as Healthy Futures,” said Lorina Marshall-Blake, President of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation.

Over the next three years, Independence Blue Cross Foundation will lead a collaborative research project focused on helping children at 20 schools in the region eat right, get fit and stay well.

“I’m truly excited as a parent,” said Kelly Williams, Kennedy’s mother.

Nurses from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will monitor the children and try to improve health screening rates.  The Philadelphia Union soccer team will help implement school fitness programs.  Parents and students will also be educated on the importance of nutrition.

“We’re going to make life better for them,” said Dr. Naomi Johnson Booker, Global Leadership Academy Charter School.

The study will track changes in the students health, including the prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes, and help shape recommendations for future child wellness initiatives.

The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is working with the following schools on the Healthy Futures Initiative:

Philadelphia County

  • F. Amedee Bregy Elementary School
  • Global Leadership Academy
  • LaSalle Academy
  • St. Martin de Porres School
  • William M. Meredith Elementary School
  • William H. Zeigler Elementary School

Montgomery County

  • Jenkintown Elementary School
  • St. Francis of Assisi School
  • St. Joseph the Protector School

Delaware County

  • Bell Avenue Elementary School
  • Drexel Neumann Academy
  • Media Elementary School
  • Park Lane Elementary School
  • Stetser Elementary School

Chester County

  • Assumption BVM School
  • St. Agnes School
  • St. Elizabeth Parish School

Bucks County

  • Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School
  • Cornwells Elementary School

For more information, visit the link below:

Healthy Future Initiative Information-