Discipline, Values and Respect

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-05-24

Dominic Cirincione and his wife Kateena, owners of Family Tae Kwon Do Plus, demonstrate a sword sparring move inside their new 5,400-square-foot location in Citrus Heights.

Family Tae Kwon Do Relocates, Plans Fun-Filled Grand Opening

While martial arts generally involves much more than punching and kicking, it’s good to have plenty of room when you’re practicing even those basic of moves intent on bringing out your “inner warrior.”

Family Tae Kwon Do Plus, a Citrus Heights fixture for afterschool martial arts and self-defense classes for kids and adults of all ages and abilities, has relocated to a larger, more visible space, giving the family owned business room to make its moves, which involves expanding the core roster of Tae Kwon Do classes, fitness training classes, afterschool clubs and summer and holiday camps for kids.

“We have been wanting to expand our afterschool programs and the other classes we have for kids in particular, but also offer more of our fitness classes for all ages, and bring in some new ones,” said Kateena Cirincione, who runs Family Tae Kwon Do Plus alongside her husband, Dominic Cirincione, both high-degree black belts and long-time contributors to community and youth programs across the region.

“Now, in addition to adding on, we can also run three afterschool programs at a time because we have three different rooms in one building to do it,” Cirincione said.

Family Tae Kwon Do Plus offers Kinder Kicks for kids 3-5 years of age, which includes physical and sequential learning development skills using big, colorful soft blocks and other props to help kids learn to count and identify shapes. The afterschool program involves self-defense and agility training, but also builds on team and leadership skills. It includes an after-school pickup, homework and tutoring support, and snacks.

Holiday and eight-week summer camp programs, as well as weekly outdoor events are also available. Leadership programs designed to teach youth the skills for building solid futures and setting goals to get there are run by a core of roughly 23 volunteer leaders, who also assist with homework and tutoring in the afterschool programs.

“We do a lot more than just teach martial arts,” Cirincione said.

The Cirincione’s operated out 4,500-square foot facility for roughly 13 years. The new building, which they moved to April 15, is 5,400 square feet in size and wraps a large corner space in the shopping center at Sunrise Boulevard and Antelope Road. The larger space, Cirincione said, makes it possible to operate the afterschool camp and homework club in one room, Kinder Kicks for three-to-six-year olds, for example, in another, and, in the larger room, traditional Tae Kwon Do and martial arts training courses.

“The main floor in the old building was much smaller and it was also pie shaped, so we had a lot of wasted space,” Cirincione said. Now we can do more of what we have been doing all along, but we can also expand on that. One of the things we wanted to add in was yoga for our adult students. We have also added a new 30-minute, six-week challenge class using heavy bags and mat work for ages 12 and up.”

In celebration of the move, Family Tae Kwon Do Plus is planning a grand opening party for Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Everyone, whether currently enrolled in a program or just curious about the art of Tae Kwon Do, is invited.

“We’re really getting ready for a great, official grand opening,” said Dominic Cirincione who has more than four decades of practice under his belt, which is eight levels of black. “We’re going to be taking over a good percentage of our new parking lot right out front and bringing in some really terrific activities for kids and adults as way to celebrate and let people know about our curriculum of classes, but also what we bring to the community.”

The grand opening party will offer Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, as well as a Bully Defense Work Shop, a Mini Kick Fit classes, sword demonstrations, as well as sparing and board breaking demos.

“The entire day will be about having fun but also showing the community what we have to offer and the benefits of our programs, especially the ones we provide for youth,” said Dominic. “There’s so much more to martial arts than kicking and punching and getting a black belt. We teach self-discipline and values, as well as respect for others and how to develop emotionally positive responses to situations.”

The big event will also feature bounce houses and a large, inflatable Checkered Flag Interactive Racing exhibit in the parking lot, as well as raffle prizes and giveaways throughout the day.

The “Family” in Family Tae Kwon Do Plus is a reflection of the Cirincione’s mission to provide families a regimen of core health, fitness and emotional discipline classes aimed at strengthening values as much as the body, as well as the skills for building stronger bonds and setting character building goals together. And they walk the talk too: Their daughter, Kasea, now 20, is also a black belt and teaches several classes at the center.

“She’s been at this since she was about four,” her father said.

In addition to onsite training, camps and even classes for children with special needs, such as autism, Family Tae Kwon Do Plus offers anti-bullying workshops in schools, as well as offsite training courses for security companies and law enforcement agencies, as well as women’s and church and teen groups across the community.

Future plans include adding classes specifically for students who are home schooled and a day yoga program.

Memorial Day Citrus Heights Celebration

Source: Jim Monteton  |  2017-05-25

Every year, Sylvan Cemetery in Citrus Heights honors those that gave their lives in the defense of their county.

All Gave Some; Some Gave All

Memorial Day will be celebrated on May 29, this year. Memorial Day, not to be confused with Veterans Day, is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Veterans Day on the other hand celebrates the service of all U.S. Military veterans. Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, originated after the American Civil War in 1868 to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. The end of May seemed to be appropriate since many spring flowers are available. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor All Americans who have died in all wars in the past 240 years.

Every year, Sylvan Cemetery in Citrus Heights honors those that gave their lives in the defense of their county. This year the Memorial Day service will be held on Monday, May 29, 2017, at Sylvan Cemetery, 7401 Auburn Blvd., Citrus Heights. The ceremony begins at 10:30 with a march through the historical section of the cemetery, stopping briefly at each flag station to read a prayer and salute the flag. The men marching include the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, VFW, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Sons of the American Revolution, Boys Scout troop 228, Police Officers of the Citrus Heights Police Department and all others that wish to march. This march will last about 30 minutes. The march will conclude at the gazebo were there will be a one-hour ceremony from 11:00 to 12:00. Many of the men marching will be in uniform – past and present – from American Revolution to modern day.

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Health Fair Reaches Decade of Service to Seniors

By Elise Spleiss  |  2017-05-25

Blood pressure screening and consultation was provided by Walgreen

Nearly 300 seniors interested in their own health and well-being and that of their loved ones filled the Citrus Heights Community Center on May 18 for the 10th “SOAR to Healthy Heights” spring senior health fair.

Honorary Chair, Mayor Jeff Slowey welcomed guests, setting the tone for a fun and informative day. Dr. Jayna Karpinski-Costa, event coordinator and president of SOAR, Neighborhood Area 10, recognized the day’s sponsors and partners and announced the day’s schedule.

Dozens of walkers gathered at 9:30 a.m. to do the “Health Walk and Roll’, a brisk 1.35-mile round-trip loop from the community center to the Stock Ranch Park Preserve and back.

Over 50 exhibitors providing resources from private businesses, non-profits, and city, state and county entities were available.

Seven workshops from Fall Prevention, Tips to Avoid Being a Victim of Crime to being smart with your money in your senior years were available to attendees. Chair Yoga leader Andrea McGowan’s statement, “the body is as old as the spine” drew many groans from attendees but after 60 minutes of stretching, breathing and relaxation, they ‘got it’ and were thankful for the experience.

New to the health fair this year and a favorite of attendees was the genealogy workshop by the Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogy Society. Attendee Carol Funk said this workshop had inspired her to take up her own research again after abandoning it for a time.

Sponsors of the health fair include Arcade Creek Neighborhood 4, SOAR, Neighborhood Area10, Republic Services, SMUD and the City of Citrus Heights. Thanks, and appreciation goes to partners, Walgreens (Dewey and Greenback), Sacramento County, Sunrise Recreation and Park District and workshop presenters. Mark your calendar now for May 12, 2018 for the next health fair.

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CRUSH LIFE: Inspiration From the Field

Story and Photos by Ethan Van Horn (Age 13)  |  2017-05-25

Our Wounded Warriors can still take a big swing at life.

I have been playing America’s game ever since I was 3 years old. I love the smell of a stadium hot dog, fresh cut grass, and the sound of a ball when it hits the bat. Baseball is my sport. I enjoy it on and off the field, and I can truly say it is the most beautiful sport around. I’ve been blessed with the speed to run from home to first base in under 4.5 seconds; that’s 90 feet! While I feel lucky to have such talent, I must admit I rarely consider what it would be like not to have these abilities.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day with the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team who is made up of some incredibly brave people…true heroes! Not just because they served in the United States military, but because they are amazing, inspiring, and all around brave souls. These men and women were wounded in combat; some lost their arms, some lost their legs… but they never lost their will to succeed!

My dad has been active duty for over ten years now, and I have watched him deploy twice and come back home safely. I never once thought about my dad losing an arm or a leg. I admit feeling like he is indestructible, sort of assuming he would be okay. But the truth is, when a soldier goes to war they are risking their life: there is no guarantee they will be safe.

These warriors went to war just like my dad but they were injured, injured bad. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into meeting this team. I had never met anyone who lost an arm or leg, and I was a little nervous at first. I kept thinking to myself “What if I offend them with my questions?” I sure didn’t want to do that.

But as I watched these men and women play ball, I realized we share a love of the game. Their bases may not be 90 feet apart, but who cares?! These athletes are doing exactly what I do when I lace up my cleats and hit the field: they are playing the best game around: baseball!

I sat down with two of the players, Cody and Josh, to ask them some questions about their past, and I as in awe by their stories. These athletes were just doing their job, the job they were trained to do, and then the unthinkable happened. They could have given up, but instead they found the courage and the drive to keep on going. They found a new cause to fight for, and refused to let anything get in their way.

Whether they believe it or not they are still heroes, every time they take the field or saddle up to the plate. These athletes get out on that ball field and run, dive for balls, scale the wall for that winning catch, and play their hearts out over and over again. I am sure they must be in pain from time to time, must occasionally stumble on their new legs, but they never give up. By refusing to drop their glove to the ground and quit a game, they send a powerful message about never giving up in life.

I will leave you with something one of the players, Nick, told me, something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Nick is amazing, his story is so inspiring—this hero has been through more than most of us will ever go through in our lifetime, and he still carries a smile on his face and lives life to the fullest. I asked all the players to sign my jersey, and along with his signature Nick added something special: his personal motto.

I hope it will inspire you as it does me, “Crush Life!”

First printed in MILITARY KIDS' LIFE magazine. Reprinted by permission.

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Dignity Health Finally Breaks Ground on Medical Complex, Eyes 2019 Opening

Story and Photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-05-24

Officials break ground on new Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group office building in Citrus Heights. From left are Citrus Heights City Manager Chris Boyd, Alan Shatzel, DO, Incoming CEO Mercy Medical Group, Inc., Sister Bridget McCarthy, vice president, Mission Integration, Dignity Health, Sigrid Owyang, vice president, operations, Dignity Health Medical Foundation, Michael Korpiel, Interim CEO, Mercy San Juan Medical Center and Citrus Heights Mayor, Jeff Slowey.

After nearly two years of delays involving legal challenges, financing issues and wet weather, the first of a multi-phase construction plan for Dignity Health’s three-story medical complex at Greenback Lane and Fountain Square Drive is underway.

Groundbreaking for Dignity Health’s long-anticipated, 68,000-square-foot medical building took place Monday, paving the way for the first phase of construction for the project on the former city hall site, which has been sitting vacant since the old structure was demolished in 2015.

“We are all very excited and thrilled to finally be able to bring this terrific project forward,” said Dignity Health Spokeswoman, Brooke Burgess just prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

According to Burgess, the new medical professional building will offer a range of primary and specialty care services delivered by a team of roughly 50 medical providers and an additional 120 support personnel. Those services will include primary care, pediatrics, family medicine and dermatology, Burgess said.

In addition to the jobs being created and the addition of critical medical care services, the project is being widely lauded as the first of what are likely more efforts by officials to attract a mix of new businesses to the city, which some agree is too reliant on retail, a sector of the economy struggling to compete against the fast-paced growth of online retailers, as well as large, outdoor retail “experience” malls, offering a mix of shops, eateries, cinemas and community gathering space.

“This is a very important project for the city, not only because of the great services it will bring in and the jobs being created here in Citrus Heights, but also because it will contribute a great deal to our plans to diversify our economy,” said Monica Alejandrez, assistant to the city manager. “We are retail heavy here and this new project is going to be a very beneficial addition to our city.”

The Dignity Health complex is part of what began as a hotly-contested $53.2 million project approved by the city in spring of 2015 that included demolition of the old city hall complex and construction of a new one, which now sits a block away and directly across the street from the Citrus Heights Police Department. Although challenged by at least one law suit initially, the Dignity Health project carries a $7 million lease agreement with Dignity Health for the vacant site. Those funds, city officials have said, are intended to be used to help offset the costs for construction of the new city hall complex.

So far, however, the city has received only a $1 million “good faith” payment from Dignity Health, as well as another roughly $1 million to cover costs associated with the demolition of the old city hall complex, Alejandrez said. Once in place, consistent payments from Dignity Health will start to flow.

There were initial delays on the project, due to at least one law suit challenging its environmental impact on the site and community, including traffic and congestion concerns. Although legal challenges have been settled and the project has been cleared to go for months, Alejandrez said the company incurred further setbacks after several failed attempts to secure financing for construction. Dignity Health has since made the decision to pay for the project out of its own pocket, but groundbreaking plans have been further delayed due to protracted wet weather this past winter, she said.

“It’s been a combination of weather and Dignity Health’s ability to obtain its financing,” said Alejandrez. “Now they have decided to just finance the project themselves, so there are no more hold ups.”

The project build will take place in three phases over the next two years, beginning with initial construction, which is expected to take a minimum of one year, followed by six months of what Burgess described as “tenant improvements,” and another six months after that to complete interior infrastructure-related components. All told, roughly four years will have passed between demolition of the old city hall and Dignity Health’s grand opening.

“We are anticipating we will see the doors open to the new building some time in spring of 2019,” said Burgess. “We are moving on a project that is going to take time for all phases to be completed, but it will ultimately be a significant addition to the community of Citrus Heights.”

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Veteran’s Community Center Celebrates Armed Forces Day and Milestone in Center’s Renovation

By Elise Spleiss  |  2017-05-24

The American River College Culinary Arts crew shows off their freshly made garlic bread that went along perfectly with their rigatoni pasta dish smothered a rich meat sauce. Shown above are: Kuulei Moreno; Anna Ward, Teresa Urkofsky; D. Jack Klingler. 
-- Photo by Elise Spleiss

As the thermostat continued to climb into the 90’s, dozens of volunteers scrambled to complete last-minute touches on the first Armed Forces Day celebration held at the Citrus Heights Veteran’s Community Center on Sylvan Road on May 20, 2017.

The advertised spaghetti feed turned out to be an even better rigatoni feed and wine tasting with the meal prepared and served by volunteers from American River College (ARC) Culinary Arts.

Four members of the Del Campo High School Honor Guard from Carmichael began the evening with the presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance. Assemblyman Ken Cooley thanked and honored the veterans present. He said remembering the “indivisible” in the Pledge of Allegiance helps us enjoy our future when we can work together as we do here in Citrus Heights, working alongside our community and the City.

Tim Whelan with the Citrus Heights Vet (Resource) Center at 5650 Sunrise Blvd, was Master of Ceremonies. Guitarist Doug Ellington set the festive tone for the evening. In-between sets, he engaged his audience of 160 attendees, honoring those present who had served in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, Korea, Desert Storm and two veterans who had served during World War II.

The meal was entirely homemade by students, many of them veterans, from the ARC Culinary program. Under the direction of Tim Shields, two dozen volunteers helped serve and to clean up at the end of the evening. Sacramento Produce Express, and Farmer’s Market, Citrus Heights donated vegetables for the salad and strawberries for the strawberry shortcake.

Purchased in 2013 by Jim and Jean Rounsavell, the center has been undergoing continuous renovations. This fundraiser marks a milestone in the work. John Klunder with Ferguson Plumbing donated the bathroom fixtures and accessories for the two Americans with Disability (ADA) compliant bathrooms. Hundreds of hours of sweat equity from dozens of volunteers over many months went into the project. Their completion makes it possible to bring in veterans to learn how to use the center’s new ParaGolfer machine designed to help them work through issues of PTSD and other disabilities while learning to golf.

At the end of the evening, as Shields was inspiring his crew for the final clean-up tasks, he thanked them for coming to help as “this place is near and dear to my heart.” It was evident this sentiment was shared by all at this event and are looking forward to the next Armed Forces Day celebration in 2018.

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Register for “Criminal Justice Shadow Day”

Source: Sacramento County Media  |  2017-05-24

Sacramento County high school students are encouraged to register for the 3rd Annual “Criminal Justice Shadow Day.” This unique program gives high school students an opportunity to job shadow professionals from various criminal justice agencies.

Based on the area of interest, students will be paired with prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, probation officers, law enforcement officers, investigators and judges to get a first-hand look at the criminal justice process and the different roles within the system. There will also be a presentation on crime scene investigations (CSI), evidence collection, and forensic science used to solve crimes.

This year’s Criminal Justice Shadow Day will be held from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., Friday, June 16, at the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers in the Sacramento County Administration Building located at 700 H Street, Sacramento.

The program is open to current Sacramento County high school students (incoming 9th graders through 12th graders). Students will need to submit completed registration forms and a signed permission slip, which can be downloaded at www.sacda.org. The deadline to register is June 9, 2017.

Space is limited and on a first come, first served basis.

DA Anne Marie Schubert states, “Since its launch in 2015, close to 200 students from 56 schools across Sacramento County have participated in the Criminal Justice Shadow Day. The success of the program is a result of the partnerships we have with our criminal justice colleagues, and our shared commitment to engage with our youth and inspire them to pursue careers in the justice system.”

The Criminal Justice Shadow Day is one of several DA youth programs designed to increase understanding and build positive relationships between youth and members of the criminal justice system.

See more at: http://www.saccounty.net/news/latest-news

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Grace House: Living Sober, Powerful and Free

By Elise Spleiss  |  2017-05-24

Grace House Family and Board of Directors gather to celebrate another day of living sober. 
-- Photo by Patrick Miller

There is a small but empowering island among the many drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in Sacramento County. Grace House, located in a quiet residential neighborhood in Carmichael, (formerly Steps to Freedom), is the only full service sober living home in the area for men and women leaving rehab facilities.

The home provides a family living environment where residents can support and encourage one another to stay drug and alcohol free as they transition into being productive members of our community.

Since 2009 Grace House has been giving their residents a reason to stay clean, and not return to their old friends and old ways. Residents who are living and remain drug and alcohol free can live at the 18-bed co-ed home up to twelve months, or possibly longer to better prepare themselves to live safely on their own. They pay $500 or $200 per month, depending on their situation. Two ‘scholarship beds’ are also available.

Grace House is a part of The Way Ministries, which also runs a street ministry for the homeless and a food ministry in several communities. Residents are invited to be a part of these ministries. What sets Grace House apart from other facilities is the sense of pride residents get when working with these outreach programs, being able to give for change instead of just receiving. They serve hot meals to the homeless at Rusch Park twice a week, help distribute 200-300 food boxes weekly to families at Serna Village in McClellan Park, and help with many community projects such as the recent Winter Sanctuary shelter program.

The Winter Sanctuary hosted by the Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) was instrumental in helping get three people off the street into Grace House.

Many residents have never experienced working as a team and helping others, and find that this work leads to their growing feelings of pride and self-esteem. They eventually become a productive, self-sufficient part of their community themselves. Over 100 men and women have graduated from the program since 2009.

Grace House is self-supporting and receives no government or social service agency funding. It is run by a 5-member board of directors representing The Way Ministries and two other ministries. People living in the home have certain rights and protections afforded by The Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Fair Housing laws. The board ensures all city and state regulations are met.

Chairman of the Board, Patrick Miller, said in an email, “I personally have three people working for me that lived at Grace House and worked to change their lives, because they were able to live clean sober lives and make the changes needed to become productive members of society”. Alex went from robbing banks in Burbank to support a drug habit, to serving 5 years in prison, then living on the street for 5 years using and dealing. He finally found his way to Grace House. After one year of clean living he got a job in the marketing department where he encourages others to not follow in his footsteps.

Miller met Helen as she was getting off federal probation for counterfeiting money to support a 26-year drug habit. She is now a productive member of the community and also supports residents in making the same lifestyle changes she made.

There is still much work to be done. Miller cited the help still needed from the community in continuing their work. He said, “Our goals are to connect with more resources to help folks transition back into productive members of our community, reach out to more ministries and social service programs to be a resource for them, to connect with the neighborhood and become good neighbors, and to continue to help people into sober living”.

Alicia summarizes it well, “What Grace House gave me was an opportunity in a safe place to heal and steady my feet. Surrounded by love and support while growing my relationship with the Lord, I have overcome what I never thought I could. I continue to thrive and grow every day and hope many many others can have the same success. Thank you Grace House!!!

For more information and to view testimonials on Grace House and The Way Ministries, go to www.thewaytribe.com or on Facebook.

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Vettes & Vets: The American Muscle Car Show

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-05-24

The Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show is being held Monday, May 29, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, Sacramento. 
-- Photo courtesy of the California Automobile Museum

Hit the road to the California Automobile Museum on Memorial Day for the 8th Annual Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show sponsored by Performance Chevrolet. The popular annual event celebrates America’s love for the automobile while honoring our country’s brave veterans and active duty military. All car owners and enthusiasts are encouraged to enter their vehicles – especially Corvettes, American “muscle cars” and military vehicles – in the show that takes place in a parking lot behind the Museum. At noon, the amazing cars on display will be judged in a variety of categories including a best-in-division award for each generation of Corvette.

In addition to the eye-catching automobiles, attendees will be treated to a DJ spinning some classic summer tunes, military color guard and national anthem along with a barbecue lunch available for purchase.

Car show guests are encouraged to visit the California Automobile Museum that has a world-class and ever-changing collection of vintage and classic vehicles on display. Plus, this is a great opportunity to catch the last weekend of the special “To the Rescue: Fire Trucks and People that Saved Our Cities” exhibit. Lastly, military veterans and active duty military (and their families) will receive FREE museum admission all day on Memorial Day in recognition of their service.

The car show is FREE for spectators. To register a vehicle, pre-registration cost is $30 (includes free admission to the museum for driver and one guest). Museum admission is $10 for Adults, $9 for Vintage (ages 65+), $5 Youth (ages 6-18), FREE for children 5 and under. On 5/29, Veterans and Active Duty Military and their families get in FREE.

The Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show is being held Monday, May 29, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. *Gates open at 8 a.m. for show vehicles at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, Sacramento.

For More information: 916-442-6802 or www.calautomuseum.org

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Sacramento nonprofit Society for the Blind is one of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that are competing in the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation’s fifth annual National Fitness Challenge. Society for the Blind and its competitors will provide more than 300 blind and visually impaired youth and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives. Other California participants are Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

“We are pleased to again partner with USABA to help break down barriers, and leverage technology to help those with vision impairments enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of exercise,” said Brian Ternan, president of Anthem Blue Cross. “Together, we want to ensure that those with visual impairments are not denied the opportunity to lead an active life and have the opportunity to avoid the health risks that come from a sedentary lifestyle.”

Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their abilities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this spring, participants who signed up with Society for the Blind had a number of physically challenging activities to look forward to. In efforts to increase participants’ levels and step counts, staff at Society for the Blind will be working with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants will also become more aware of opportunities in their community.

“Society for the Blind is honored and excited to again be a part of the National Fitness Challenge,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director. “This partnership with USABA and Anthem raises awareness and, more importantly, participation of people with vision loss in health and fitness activities. We look forward to friendly challenges among our fellow participating agencies as we increase the physical fitness and overall health and wellness of our participants.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation: www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind with a mission to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information: www.usaba.org, www.twitter.com/USABA or on Facebook as United States Association of Blind Athletes.

In addition to grant funding, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation will provide volunteers at events across the state during the nine-month program. Local employees will have the opportunity to meet participants and help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges.

®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. For more information: www.twitter.com/AskAnthem,  www.twitter.com/AnthemBC_News or www.facebook.com/AskAnthem.

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