THREE UNITEDHEALTH HEROES GRANTS AWARDED IN VIRGINIA TO FIGHT CHILDHOOD OBESITY
UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, awarded $2,500 in UnitedHealth HEROES grants to Americorps VISTA at Shenandoah University, Cumberland County Public Library and Hunter B. Andrews Pre K - 8 in Virginia for youth-led projects that address childhood obesity. As childhood obesity rates continue to rise dramatically1, UnitedHealth HEROES supports kids’ creative efforts to battle obesity.
UnitedHealth HEROES is a wellness initiative developed by UnitedHealthcare and YSA (Youth Service America) designed to encourage young people, working with educators and youth leaders, to create and implement walking, running or hiking programs aimed at helping fight childhood obesity.
The local winners in Virginia include:
- Americorps VISTA at Shenandoah University, an organization dedicated to building capacity to move people out of poverty in Winchester, VA, will implement the Hiking Your Way to Healthy Livingprogram that allows Shenandoah University students in the fields of Public Health and Kinesiology the opportunity to work with 30 fifth graders in an after school program at Daniel Morgan Middle School. The program will impact childhood obesity rates through a 13 week curriculum, meeting one hour per week. This curriculum incorporates transporting fifth grade students to local hiking trails for three-hour weekend hikes, with weekly classes focusing on the importance of physical activity, healthy living and hiking safety. The fifth graders will then work with second graders to pass on what they have learned.
- Cumberland County Public Library, the local public library located in Cumberland, Virginia will work with Cumberland County Public Schools to implement a program that has three components. First, students will participate in a standardized 5K training program where they will gradually increase their activity. Students will begin walking/jogging for 25 minutes, three times per week and by the end of the program, students will be jogging/running eight miles per week. Second, the participating students will research information on healthy lifestyle choices and the effects of obesity. Third, students will demonstrate the success of their 13-week training program and participate in a 5K race at the end of this program, to be held at the Cumberland County Public Schools campus on Saturday, April 27, 2013.
- Hunter B. Andrews Pre K – 8, the local school located in Hampton, Virginia, will implement a bi-weekly student-led walking program through its Fit for Life program. Middle School students will participate in the walking program on the school track after school. The program will develop supportive relationships to encourage meeting personal fitness goals. Participants will set weekly pedometer goals and track their steps on a group fitness log. This program achieves to involve the school’s 1,500 students by encouraging all students to join the bi-weekly walking activity. The program also aims to create a bridge to student families with a Global Youth Service Day event by educating parents and facilitating a family walking activity.
Grants of up to $1,000 were awarded to youth-led programs that include both an activity element, in which kids count their steps, and a service component that increases awareness, provides direct service, enables advocacy on behalf of a cause, or features youth philanthropy around the issue of childhood obesity. UnitedHealth HEROES grants are available to schools and youth-focused, community-based programs across the country. UnitedHealth HEROES projects will begin on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (Jan. 21, 2013) and end on Global Youth Service Day (April 26-28, 2013).
A complete list of grant winners and their projects is available online at www.ysa.org/HEROES.
“Once again this year we were amazed by the creative ideas young people came up with to help fight obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles,” said Kate Rubin, vice president of social responsibility, UnitedHealth Group. “By planning, and then participating in the UnitedHealth HEROES program, these youth are working to ‘Step into Service,’ and give back to their communities, as they positively impact the lives of everyone around them.”
“UnitedHealth HEROES asks the young people of Virginia to step up to address an issue that directly affects them. The program is changing the way communities across the country think about the role of young people,” said Steven A. Culbertson, president and CEO of YSA. “Kids can be leaders, and through UnitedHealth HEROES, they are teaching other kids—and grown-ups too—about the value of healthy lifestyles.”
Obesity is a critical problem among America’s children. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three children is obese or overweight, putting them on the road to lifelong chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
According to America’s Health Rankings®, obesity is one of the greatest health threats in the U.S. It is a leading cause of preventable death. The direct medical costs associated with obesity in 2008 were estimated at $147 billion. America’s Health Rankings is an annual state-by-state assessment of the nation’s health. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.
1 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.
About YSA (Youth Service America)
Celebrating 25 years of youth changing the world, YSA (Youth Service America) improves communities by increasing the number and diversity of young people serving in substantive roles. Through campaigns such as Global Youth Service Day and Semester of Service; YSA Grants and awards programs; and resources and training opportunities, YSA activates millions of young people each year. Working with and on behalf of youth, adult mentors, organizations and schools, YSA promotes a global culture of engaged youth committed to a lifetime of community action, learning, leadership and achievement.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.