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HORNETS PARTNER WITH OCHSNER AND BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF LOUISIANA TO PROMOTE FITNESS THROUGH BEE-FIT PROGRAM

September 28, 2011

The New Orleans Hornets have teamed up with Ochsner and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana to teach physical fitness, prevent childhood obesity and educate students on the importance of healthy lifestyle habits through the Bee-Fit program. For the second-straight year, the program will reach all 56 elementary schools in Jefferson Parish and more than 31,000 students in kindergarten through 8th grade. The Hornets launched the program on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at Terrytown Elementary at an event featuring Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams, Ochsner Chief of Pediatric Nephrology and Chair of Pediatrics Dr. Robert Cunningham, BCBS Regional Director Mitchell Meynard, Jefferson Parish President John Young, Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts, Jefferson Parish School System Superintendent Dr. James Meza, Jr., Jefferson Parish Athletic Director Manny Barocco and other representatives.

Childhood obesity is a huge problem in our city and state, and as a professional sports franchise, the Hornets understand the importance of using our resources to educate local students about how easy and fun living a healthy lifestyle can be, said Hornets President Hugh Weber. Starting at a young age is key and we appreciate that our partners at Ochsner and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana share our passion for creating a healthy future in New Orleans.

Students will participate in physical fitness programs throughout the entire school year, tracking their results on a fitness report card and taking a pre- and post-physical fitness evaluation so results can be measured from start to finish. Results will be tracked through Fitnessgram, a fitness assessment software program that will allow each individual students fitness capabilities to be monitored and exercise programs to be customized and suggested when needed. Each student who participates in the program will receive a free ticket to a Hornets home game.

The two students (one male and one female) at each elementary school who exhibit the highest increase in their fitness benchmarks at the end of the school year will be eligible to compete in the Bee-Fit Challenge event, where students will compete against each other in various fitness activities. Winners of the Bee-Fit Challenge will compete in the statewide Governors Games and will receive gym memberships for his or her entire family courtesy of Ochsner Health System, a pre-game meet and greet with a Hornets player and tickets to a Hornets home game.

When it comes to getting healthy, its never too young to start, and the BEE-Fit Challenge will allow even the youngest children to learn the importance of eating right and moving more, the core values of our Louisiana 2 Step program, said Mitchell Meynard, BCBSLA Regional Director for Sales and Marketing for the New Orleans Region. We are excited to be part of this wonderful initiative to help combat childhood obesity in a state where our children are among the heaviest in the nation.

The Jefferson Parish elementary school with the highest increase in fitness benchmarks by the end of the school year will receive a fitness center refurbishment, complete with work-out equipment, stretching mats, light dumbbells and a flat screen TV with Wii Fit. The grand opening will also feature an unveiling event with Hugo, Honeybees and other Hornets personalities.

Students and parents will also be able to access a Bee-Fit Web page at Hornets.com that will include fitness tips, interactive fitness games, healthy eating ideas and videos of Hugos favorite exercises to help combat childhood obesity and encourage an active lifestyle.

Hornets players and other personalities will make monthly visits to the schools to check the students progress and will host 20 Bee-Fit Field Days throughout the season to continue to encourage healthy habits.

"The expansion of the Bee Fit program is a great way for Ochsner to collaborate with other community partners in changing the health of the next generation, said Dr. Robert Cunningham, Ochsner Chief of Pediatric Nephrology & Chair of Pediatrics. This program parallels our goals of using our resources and expertise to help integrate healthy initiatives into a child's life. The Hornets players are role models for our children, and this program shows them how healthy eating and physical activity are necessary for a bright future. Schools are a key setting - good health begins where we live, learn, work, and play."



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