Officials with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota have unveiled the first plank of a new wellness platform.

The program, called The Official Sponsor of Recess, is meant to educate and promote healthy lifestyles among people of all ages. The first plank of the program, called Recess Yes, was announced Thursday at a news conference in Fargo.

Najla Amundson, public relations manager for BCBSND, said the idea for the overall program came following a series of health care forums the company held throughout the state last year. Amundson said a major area of concern from North Dakota residents was the overall cost of health care.

“Forming a healthy lifestyle is something they want us to play a role in,” Amundson said. “They are looking for ways to get kids active.”

To help achieve that, a total of 4,600 Recess Yes kits were sent out to K-5 teachers across the state. Items in the kits include a resource guide and tips on how to add “recess to the classroom” as well as CDs with music produced for the initiative “to get kids on their feet.” The Recess Yes initiative cost approximately $40,000 to develop and send kits to educators statewide.

“Long term, we know that healthy people don’t put a strain on the health care system, unhealthy people do. Healthy kids and healthy adults are really going to help drive down the costs,” Amundson said.

According to a 2011 survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 28 percent of North Dakotans are classified as obese. Amundson said nearly 25 percent of North Dakota children are classified as obese.

Amundson said in today’s world there are far more things such as computers and television keeping young people from taking part in a more active lifestyle.

“The hope is it will change things ... if we can instill that kind habit early on,” Amundson said.

She said having more children develop a healthy lifestyle can translate into more healthy adults. That in turn could help rein in health care costs in the future. She said other groups such as day cares can also contact BCBSND to receive the kits.

Amundson said Recess Yes is the first of a series of initiatives that will target people of all ages. She said two other programs are planned to be unveiled in the months ahead: one in about two weeks and the other in early 2013.

“We see this as long-term,” Amundson said.

Amundson said efforts to improve healthy habits in people of all ages are beneficial for both the public and the health care industry.

For more information on Recess Yes, visit .

Reach Nick Smith at 250-8255 or 223-8482 or at