Peduto helps kindergarteners kickoff the first day of school

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Reminds Parents of Free Healthcare Enrollment Resource to Promote a Culture of Health

PITTSBURGH, PA — Mayor William Peduto’s Healthy Together enrollment campaign, made possible thanks to a $200,000 grant from the National League of Cities (NLC), partnered Thursday with the United Way of Allegheny County and Ready Freddy to reach families at Pittsburgh Langley K-8 on the first day of kindergarten.

The Mayor encouraged kids to start the school year strong and stressed the importance of healthcare coverage to parents – an essential ingredient for a healthy and successful school year. The Consumer Health Coalition (CHC) was onsite providing free enrollment services to parents eager to learn more about their healthcare options. Families across the region who are interested in learning about coverage options should contact CHC at 412-456-1877 or visit http://www.consumerhealthcoalition.org.

There are approximately 9,000 uninsured youth across Allegheny County, and almost 2,000 of these children live in the city of Pittsburgh. Most qualify for yet are not enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP. These children are five times more likely to have an unmet medical need and three times more likely to not have access to vital medication such as asthma inhalers. Further, uninsured kids are 30 percent less likely to get medical treatment when injured.

“Our challenge comes in reaching out widely enough so that families across Pittsburgh know about Healthy Together and the free healthcare enrollment services offered, so that we can find each and every one of these uninsured youth and get them covered,” Mayor Peduto said. “We will succeed with the help of great partners like Superintendent Linda Lane at Pittsburgh Public Schools, who will now use a prompt on school enrollment forms that will match children identified as uninsured with the Consumer Health Coalition and provide an easy path to healthcare coverage.”

Healthy Together expects to find most uninsured youth are in their tween and teen years, but is conducting citywide outreach, with an emphasis on select neighborhood corridors, to ensure all families across the city of Pittsburgh know about the initiative and that they get covered and stay covered. Mayor Peduto has set a goal of 100 percent enrollment for Pittsburgh’s kids within four years (and the NLC grant requires 50 percent enrollment or 1,000 youth in Pittsburgh).

Throughout the morning, Mayor Peduto spoke to the importance of creating a culture of health in Pittsburgh and enrollment as an important first step. After reading to kindergarteners from “Ready Freddy Goes to School” — pausing on the page where Freddy goes to the doctor to underscore the importance of health to the parents in the room — the Mayor left the children with an inspiring parting message: “If you dream it, you can be it.” One little girl, beaming at the thought, quickly shared “I want to be a monkey!” Followed by another classmate declaring he wants to be a cheetah.

Healthy Together Enrollment Campaign
Healthy Together is an example of local nonprofits and local government coming together and serving the needs of children and youth. The campaign’s leadership team is made up of representatives from the Mayor’s Office, Consumer Health Coalition, Allies for Children, Allegheny County Department of Public Health, and more than 30 supporting partner organizations including the United Way of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Public Schools. The Healthy Together enrollment campaign, a program of Live Well Pittsburgh, is committed to getting every child in Pittsburgh covered.

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