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Laura Klaum

Tony Felts
Anthem Indiana

Last modified: Thursday, February 10, 2011

IUPUI researchers receive grant to evaluate, enhance school-based community fitness program

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation provides $90,000 for study

February 5, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation today announced that it has awarded a $90,000 grant to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis' School of Physical Education and Tourism Management (PETM). The grant will help evaluate and expand a community workout and training program that PETM operates at three Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) high schools -- George Washington, Howe and Manual.

Community Fitness

Deryl Springfield is one of more than 10,000 Indianapolis residents who have participated in the PARCS program. He's lost 20 pounds.

The program, called PARCS (Physically Active Residential Communities and Schools), eliminates two significant barriers to exercise for people in urban communities: cost and accessibility. Community members pay just $20 annually. Students and staff members from the participating schools exercise for free, as do community members who have physician referrals. And the neighborhood schools provide close-to-home facilities.

The low cost is possible because IPS contributes the facilities, while faculty-supervised physical education students from IUPUI serve as volunteers who provide individualized wellness assessments, exercise prescriptions, health promotion advice and personal training.

To date, more than 10,000 residents have participated in the seven-year-old PARCS program. Indianapolis resident Deryl Springfield, 57, is one of them.

"If you look around, the majority of people have guts," said Springfield. "I want to get rid of mine. I've lost 20 pounds in the last year. I keep coming to PARCS, eating light, and not eating late at night. I'm losing it, and I feel good. I need to lose about 25 more pounds, and I'll keep working on it."

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant, the largest in the program's history, will provide a new level of program evaluation -- one that will set measurable goals for participants and, PETM officials hope, lead to program expansion.

Specific measurable objectives for the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant include:

  • Improved frequency of exercise;
  • 10-pound weight loss for obese individuals;
  • 5-pound weight loss in overweight individuals;
  • Improved muscle strength and cardiovascular endurance;
  • Decreased resting and exercise blood pressure;
  • Decreased resting and exercise heart rate;
  • Improved attitudes toward exercise.

"This grant provides an invaluable opportunity for our School and the PARCS program," said Jay Gladden, dean of the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. "It will fund the kind of translational research IUPUI is known for -- and, if the results are what we expect, it will help pave the way for other grants, and enhance our ability to replicate this program in other schools and other communities."

"The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is dedicated to improving the health of underserved populations," said Robert W. Hillman, president and general manager, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana. "We're impressed with the PARCS program, delighted to join this proven partnership, and eager to enhance and measure the program's results."