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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2006

First Lady Patti Blagojevich promotes Gov. Blagojevich’s All Kids program at the YMCA’s 15th annual Healthy Kids Day
First Lady joins local “Put Play in their Day” at Pilsen YMCA to celebrate healthy living and encourage families to choose an active lifestyle

CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined thousands of children and their parents at the “Put Play in Their Day” event in the new state-of-the-art Rauner Family YMCA in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. The First Lady addressed the importance of keeping Illinois’ children healthy and safe, and the role of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s All Kids program in accomplishing that goal. All Kids is the first health care program in the nation to provide comprehensive and affordable health insurance for every uninsured child in Illinois.
 
“The YMCA’s annual Healthy Kids Day is all about encouraging families to lead healthy lifestyles.  One of the most basic tools to kids’ good health is access to routine, preventative care.  But thousands of hard-working parents in Illinois can’t afford health insurance to make sure their kids are getting regular check-ups and - in worse cases - getting medical attention quickly when they get sick or injured. No family should be stuck in that position. That’s why we passed All Kids, to make sure affordable health insurance is available for every child,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. “I want to thank the Rauner Family YMCA for this wonderful opportunity to promote All Kids and celebrate the 15th Annual YMCA Health Kids Day.”
 
“Put Play in Their Day” is part of the YMCA’s 15th annual Healthy Kids Day. Half a million kids and families are expected to participate in Healthy Kids Day at 1,420 YMCAs across the nation, including several venues in Illinois. The goal of these events is to celebrate healthy living and encourage families to embrace a more active lifestyle.
 
Parents who wished to pre-register their children for All Kids were able to do so at the All Kids tent set up inside the Rauner Family YMCA facility. Personnel from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) helped with the pre-registration process. Benefits under the Governor’s All Kids program take effect July 1, 2006. Pre-registration will help expedite the application process.
 
The event included a martial arts performance by Brenda Song of the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, an appearance by the popular children’s characters JoJo and Goliath and a free skills clinic from Chicago Storm soccer players on the YMCA’s new outdoor field. The event also featured fitness activities, health and fitness education booths, free healthy snacks and beverages, complimentary t-shirts and a free parenting guide with tips on raising safe and healthy kids.
 
“Our goal is to motivate children and families in the Chicagoland area to make healthier lifestyle choices through fun and engaging activities and education. We need to increase our children’s level of activity, help them make smarter nutrition decisions and address the continual rise in the rate of obesity and diabetes in children,” explained Martha “Marty” Gutierrez, executive director of the Rauner Family YMCA. “We need everyone to get moving and get on board with this message- parents, caregivers and schools. As a community, we can create healthier kids for a better future.”
 
As First Lady, Patti Blagojevich has worked tirelessly to promote initiatives that help Illinois families bring up happy, healthy and successful children. This past year, through the All Kids health insurance program, Illinois has become the first state in the nation to offer affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child. The First Lady has served as a spokesperson and partner for All Kids, working with schools and hospitals across the state to pre-register families in this landmark program.
 
Mrs. Blagojevich’s commitment to children’s health also extends to raising awareness of childhood vision disorders. Launched in 2004, the First Lady’s Illinois Pediatric Vision Initiative has reached out to parents, doctors, teachers and local health departments across the state to educate communities on preventable eye diseases, focusing specifically on Amblyopia (also known as “lazy eye.”).  Lazy eye is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in children.
 
Of the approximately 250,000 children in Illinois without health insurance, about half come from working and middle class families who earn too much to qualify for programs like KidCare, but not enough to afford private health insurance. The Governor’s program would make comprehensive health insurance available to children, including doctor’s visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eye glasses and asthma inhalers. Parents will pay monthly premiums and co-payments for doctors’ visits and prescription drugs at affordable rates.
 
Building on the effort to make information about All Kids available to every community in Illinois, pre-registration guides are also available in 13 languages online at www.allkidscovered.com.  Families can also pre-register their kids by attending upcoming pre-registration events or by calling 1-866-ALL-KIDS to receive pre-registration forms by mail. 
 
Once a pre-registration form is received, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) will process the information and mail parents a letter to explain the next steps in the application process.  When it is time for the family to apply, HFS will mail each family an All Kids application that will be partially filled out based on the information provided during pre-registration. 
 
For those families pre-registering online at www.allkidscovered.com, they can choose to be contacted via email or by mail for completion of the enrollment process.  Children who are determined to be eligible for KidCare can apply immediately to receive health coverage.  Families not currently eligible for KidCare may apply early in 2006 for benefits that will begin July 1, 2006.  Pre-registration forms should be filled out and mailed to All Kids, P.O. Box 19122, Springfield, IL 62794-9805 or they will be collected at pre-registration sites across the state over the next few months.


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