UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) has awarded more than 265 grants of up to $1,000 to schools and youth-focused, community-based organizations in 35 states and the District of Columbia that have developed programs to fight childhood obesity in their communities.
UnitedHealth HEROES Grants were awarded to programs that have demonstrated a clear understanding of the health risks associated with pediatric obesity; proposed creative solutions to fight obesity in their neighborhoods and communities; and can be easily implemented, scaled and measured. A list of grant winners will be available online at www.ysa.org.
The grants are part of the UnitedHealth HEROES program, a service-learning, health literacy initiative developed by UnitedHealth Group and Youth Service America aimed at encouraging young people, working through educators and youth leaders, to create and implement local hands-on programs to address childhood obesity.
“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 communities. As people become more aware of health issues through health literacy and advocacy initiatives they will make positive changes to live better lives,” said Jeannine Rivet, UnitedHealth Group executive vice president.
“We believe these grants will empower teams of students to collaborate with teachers and community leaders to develop their own awareness programs that will make their schools and neighborhoods healthier. In reviewing the grant applications, we were inspired by the creative ideas young people came up with to help fight obesity and encourage healthier living,” said Rivet. “The UnitedHealth HEROES grants are part of UnitedHealth Group’s overall commitment to help stem the rising tide of obesity, and related chronic health conditions like diabetes.”
“The response we have received across the country to the UnitedHealth HEROES grant program has been extraordinary. It reflects Youth Service America and UnitedHealth Group's shared commitment to engage our communities to enhance our nation's health, education and youth leadership,” said Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of Youth Service America. “Young people want to make a difference, and UnitedHealth HEROES offers them the resources to make a positive, measurable impact on their communities.”
The HEROES service-learning projects are implemented during the spring semester and will culminate on YSA’s 21st Annual Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), April 23-25, 2010, the largest service event in the world. GYSD provides an opportunity for students to include their projects in a larger, global youth service movement that seeks to improve communities in all 50 states and more than 100 countries.
Last year, UnitedHealth Group and YSA awarded more than $69,000 in grants to 100 community-based projects in 15 states. More information about the UnitedHealth HEROES program is available at www.ysa.org.
Obesity is a critical problem in America’s classrooms. According to 2008 data from the Centers for Disease Control, one in three children is obese or overweight, putting them on the road to lifelong chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Also, according to the 2009 America’s Health RankingsTM, 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. America’s Health Rankings is an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state analysis. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.
About Youth Service America
Youth Service America (YSA) improves communities 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.
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to making health care work better. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through seven operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare, Ovations, AmeriChoice, Uniprise, OptumHealth, Ingenix, and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 70 million individuals nationwide.