N E W S R E L E A S E: For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Will Shanley, UnitedHealthcare, (714) 204-8005, email@example.com
SIX GRANTS AWARDED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TO FIGHT CHILDHOOD OBESITY
· “UnitedHealth HEROES” grants support local programs that engage children as learners and leaders of healthy habits
· Community-focused, service-learning initiative by UnitedHealthcare and Youth Service America
· More than $187,000 in HEROES grants awarded to 282 schools and community-based organizations nationwide
CONCORD, Calif. (Feb. 3, 2012) – As childhood obesity rates continue to rise dramatically1, UnitedHealthcare is supporting kids’ creative efforts to battle obesity through its UnitedHealth HEROES grant program.
UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, awarded $5,000 in HEROES grants to six organizations in Southern California for youth-led projects that address childhood obesity. UnitedHealthcare awarded another 12 grants totaling $12,000 to organizations in Northern California.
The HEROES program is especially important in California, where 30.5 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are considered overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
UnitedHealth HEROES is a service-learning, health literacy initiative developed by UnitedHealthcare and Youth Service America (YSA) designed to encourage young people, working with educators and youth leaders, to create and implement hands-on programs to encourage healthy eating and healthy lifestyles.
Grant recipients this year in Southern California include:
· American Liver Foundation (Los Angeles) received a $1,000 grant for “Love Your Liver” – This initiative is a “liver wellness” education program targeted at elementary, middle and high school students. The program will educate students about the liver, as well as provide tips to prevent liver disease, such as maintaining an active lifestyle and a balanced diet. The goal is to reduce obesity, which has been linked to liver disease.
Orville Wright Middle School (Los Angeles) received a $1,000 grant for “Around the Table: Reframing Who We Are by What We Eat” – This program will encourage students to increase the type of healthy foods in their diets. The students will start by keeping food journals to understand what they are currently eating, as well as analyze the food habits of their families and peers. After that, the students will grow and harvest food in the school garden before publishing a book featuring a collection of recipes, narratives and artwork about healthy eating. The students will also host a twilight dinner featuring food from the garden and recipes from the cookbook.
Chaminade College Preparatory (Canoga Park) received a $500 grant for “Getting Out to Play” – Biology students at Chaminade College Preparatory will conduct research on childhood obesity, focusing on caloric intake and activity levels of elementary students. The students will then produce a guide book featuring healthy food choices and various activities that will teach younger students about the benefits of a healthy diet and daily exercise.
Corona-Norco Family YMCA (Corona) received a $1,000 grant for “Kids Zumba” – This program is a unique combination of dance styles, including hip-hop and pop, providing youngsters with a fun and healthy activity three times a week. The Y will connect previously underserved students with the tools necessary to improve their health and increase their level of physical activity.
Santiago Creek School (Santa Ana) received a $500 grant for “Healthy Living” – Participating students will investigate the causes of childhood obesity and become nutrition advocates, teaching their peers about proper diet and exercise. The students will then organize a health fair during April’s Global Youth Service Day to bring awareness to the problem of childhood obesity.
SuperFood Drive (Solana Beach) received a $1,000 grant for “SuperKids for SuperFoods” – This program will engage middle school students in leading SuperFood Drives, which will help provide low-income residents in Southern California with healthy food. A SuperKids Leadership Team will be appointed at each school to coordinate, promote and lead their school-wide SuperFood Drive. The program will culminate with a special event on April’s Global Youth Service Day.
These programs were selected because they demonstrate a clear understanding of the health risks associated with childhood obesity; propose creative solutions to fight obesity in neighborhoods and communities; and can be effectively implemented, scaled and measured. Projects will culminate April 20-22, 2012, on Global Youth Service Day, the world’s largest and longest-running youth-led service campaign.
A complete list of grant winners and their projects is available online at www.ysa.org/HEROES.
“We believe that children are uniquely positioned to come up with creative ideas to help their peers in the fight against obesity and to encourage healthier living,” said David Anderson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Southern California. “With UnitedHealth HEROES, we are helping young people take action to improve their overall health and quality of life in a way that’s not only educational, but beneficial for their entire community.
“UnitedHealth HEROES is part of UnitedHealthcare’s overall commitment to help stem the rising tide of obesity and related chronic health conditions like diabetes,” said Anderson.
“When we ask young people to tackle tough issues like childhood obesity, we’re helping to inspire the problem-solvers of today and tomorrow,” said Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of YSA. “UnitedHealth HEROES grants have a ripple effect: the benefits will be seen in communities nationwide now and well into the future. YSA applauds UnitedHealthcare for inviting young people to take action and create healthy communities.”
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.
If left unchecked or untreated, obesity will affect 43 percent of adults by 2018 and will add nearly $344 billion in that year alone to the nation’s annual direct health care costs, accounting for more than 21 percent of health care spending, according to America’s Health Rankings®. 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.
YSA (Youth Service America) improves communities worldwide by increasing the number and the diversity of young people, ages 5-25, serving in substantive roles. Founded in 1986, YSA supports a global culture of engaged youth committed to a lifetime of service, learning, leadership, and achievement. The impact of YSA’s work through service and service-learning is measured in student achievement, workplace readiness, and healthy communities. For more information, visit www.YSA.org.
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.