Norfolk, VA - August 22, 2003- Sentara Family Care takes a new approach to health care by promoting wellness habits in youth. This season 84 girls ages 12 to 14 will participate in a fall basketball league and health education program sponsored by Sentara Family Care, a Medicaid HMO product of Sentara Health Management. A total of 7 teams representing the cities in Hampton Roads will participate in the eight-week-long basketball program.
The Sentara Family Care Hampton Roads Regional Fall Girls Basketball League sleepover kick-off event is scheduled for Friday, August 22, 2003, from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. at the Doris Miller Community Center, 2814 Wickham Avenue in Newport News. The girls will spend the night involved in a pre-season tournament as well as pre-season surveys, health education sessions, musical entertainment, food, and fun.
"We are excited this program brings health and prevention information directly to young people in their own community," says Sylvia Whitaker, Sentara Family Care Sales and Outreach Manager.
Five years ago, the program began in an effort to educate at-risk girls about key health and wellness issues while providing them wholesome competition and character-building opportunities. Since its inception, more than 1,400 girls have participated.
Area organizations have joined Sentara Family Care to support the league including: Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Hampton Parks and Recreation, Norfolk Neighborhood and Leisure services, Portsmouth Community Relations and Leisure Services, Suffolk Parks and Recreation, and Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation.
"The Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation has generously funded education components of the program, making it possible to share valuable preventive health information," says Terrina Thomas, Manager of Sentara's Community Health and Prevention Department. "We are reaching so many girls with information to make healthy choices while helping them establish exercise habits that may reduce their risk of developing diabetes or obesity later in life."
On September 6, the eight-week-long season begins with the first match. Before each game, the girls attend a mandatory education session covering topics such as dental hygiene, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, and healthy eating habits. The season concludes in late October with a single elimination championship round.
Sentara Family Care provides each player with a league uniform, award, and photograph with her coach as well as game officials, Parent's Night Out, and event sponsorship, which includes staffing, exhibits, promotional items, and health education literature for the entire community.
"Sentara has long embraced its responsibility to take an active role in making the communities we serve healthier places," said Chief Executive Officer David L. Bernd. "Sentara Family Care's Regional Fall Girls Basketball League is an innovative program that is making a difference in the lives of young people in Hampton Roads."
Also at the kickoff will be the Rantmobile, sponsored by the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation. The Rantmobile is a car outfitted with high-tech audio and video equipment that gives young people an opportunity to learn about the dangers of tobacco and then records their feelings about tobacco use. Girls ages 12 to 14 living in seven Hampton Roads cities including Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach are eligible to play in the league.