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  • April 2, 2013

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota to sponsor West Acres' new play area

The Official Sponsor of Recess continues efforts to raise awareness of wellness for North Dakotans

FARGO, N.D. — Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota (BCBSND) is teaming up with West Acres as a sponsor for the shopping center's new indoor play area, named Recess West. As The Official Sponsor of Recess, supporting this project will serve as part of BCBSND's three-pronged approach to promote, advocate and support healthy lives for all North Dakotans through participation in daily wellness and physical activities.

"Childhood and adolescent obesity has tripled since 1980. In fact, more than a third of North Dakota kids are overweight or obese," says Paul von Ebers, BCBSND president and Chief Executive Officer. "When we were touring the state in 2011, members said they expected us to lead the way in supporting health and wellness efforts. We listened and we are responding. Recess West play area is one part of a comprehensive plan to promote movement among all North Dakotans, young and old and in between."

Brad Schlossman, CEO at West Acres Development LLP, is excited about partnering with BCBSND for the new play area. Not only does it promote healthy activity and provide a place for children to play, it also supports our community today and for the future. "We are pleased that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has included our customers in their efforts to improve the health and well-being of our region by sponsoring the new Recess West play area."

According to Alissa Sorum, marketing director of West Acres, the new space will be brighter, larger in size, and will feature an open air entrance and a new ventilation system to improve air quality. Many of the play elements will be smaller, making them more accessible for younger children, a request that was voiced by many customers.  In addition, the walls will be covered in a bright, whimsical mural by local artist Emily Williams Wheeler. "Customer feedback drove many of the decisions behind the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Recess West play area. The new play area will not only be a great space for children to be active, but will be an enjoyable and happy atmosphere for both parents and children," Sorum said.

Recess West play area is scheduled to be unveiled and open to the public in early May. While the play area is blocked off during construction, alternative activities will be held for children to keep them active while visiting West Acres.

BCBSND's first major program for The Official Sponsor of Recess was Recess YES!, a statewide platform that provides North Dakota kindergarten through fifth grade teachers with tools and ideas to incorporate recess – a brain break or physical break – during the school day in the classroom.

Even though recess is a term usually associated with children, BCBSND believes North Dakotans of all ages should take time for recess. "The play area is for kids, but recess is for everyone," said von Ebers. "It's important for all of us to find time in our day for a break – whether it's a 15-minute walk around your workplace, or a physical activity break for kids in the classroom or a simple family outing."

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota
BCBSND is a member-owned, not-for-profit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. As North Dakota's largest provider of health care coverage, BCBSND is taking BOLD steps to collaborate with doctors, hospitals, clinics and members to ensure affordable access to quality health care in the state. To learn more about BCBSND, visit