Shape NC


The Partnership has played a leadership role in raising public awareness and implementing initiatives to address the issue of childhood health in Randolph County for almost a decade. It’s one of four regional hubs in the state for Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation's Shape NC Initiative, and provides specific interventions which include specialized training, on-site technical assistance and community action plans centered on reducing childhood obesity.

Shape NC, BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina Foundation’s initiative to combat early childhood obesity by focusing on the child care setting, incorporates a project of the Natural Learning Initiative at N.C. State University called Preventing Obesity by Design that works with child care centers, including several in the area, to transform their existing traditional playgrounds into stimulating, nature play and learning environments offering diverse opportunities for increased physical activity and healthy nutrition. The Shape NC initiative uses evidence-informed strategies for the promotion of early childhood health and obesity prevention.

Strategies include:

  • Improving nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in child care (NAP-SACC: Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care).
  • Increasing active play by creating outdoor learning environments for children attending child care centers (Natural Learning Initiative at NC State University, the purveyor of Preventing Obesity by Design).
  • Increasing healthy movement through the use of Be Active Kids®. Be Active Kids®, a signature program of the BCBSNC Foundation focused on early childhood physical activity.

Making an Impact:

  • 38 early learning programs have transformed their outdoor learning space to focus on healthy movement and eating.
  • 85% of children in Randolph County early childhood programs are receiving 90 minutes or more of physical activity daily; up from 51% a few years ago. 

Expansion of the Outdoor Learning Initiative 

Recently, the outdoor learning environment initiative has expanded from child care centers to elementary schools. The effort was boosted by a $48,000 grant from The Timken Foundation of Canton Ohio, to the Partnership. The grant allows the partnership to continue serving children as they funnel out of early child care and into elementary schools. The Timken grant focuses specifically on McCrary Elementary School and Level Cross Elementary School. 

For McCrary Elementary this means an outdoor learning environment for kindergarten through second-grade students; improvements to the outdoor play space for grades 3-5 with the addition of six fitness stations to encourage outdoor exercise, physical activity and fitness, and equipment for the newly created girls’ volleyball team. Improvements will also benefit the surrounding community in which there are no immediate playgrounds or walking paths within walking distance for families and other neighborhood residents. The new space will provide families a safe place to be active together.

Plans to improve Level Cross Elementary School’s prekindergarten outdoor area include creating a bike trail using the existing sidewalk and paving the rest of the space for a figure-eight design. There will also be a raised garden bed, sandbox, trough for water play, a stage, outdoor musical fence and a small set of stairs to allow special needs children the opportunity to improve their coordination and climbing skills.


For additional information on Shape NC, view the SHAPE NC Initiative Fact Sheet.

To download the "Places to Grow & Play near Randolph County" map, click here (2.1MB) .

To download a PDF of our PowerPoint presentation from the “Building Momentum for Transforming Outdoor Learning Environments Workshop,” click here (6.4MB).



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