UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) has awarded 333 grants to schools and youth-focused, community-based organizations nationwide for youth-led projects to fight childhood obesity.
Grants of up to $1,000 each were awarded to programs that demonstrate a clear understanding of the health risks associated with pediatric obesity; propose creative solutions to fight obesity in neighborhoods and communities; and can be effectively implemented, scaled and measured. A list of grant winners is available online at www.ysa.org.
The grants form the core of UnitedHealth HEROES, a service-learning, health literacy initiative developed by UnitedHealth Group and Youth Service America. The program is aimed at encouraging young people, working through educators and youth leaders, to create and implement local hands-on projects addressing 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 Kate Rubin, UnitedHealth Group vice president of Social Responsibility.
“We believe these grants will empower teams of students to collaborate with teachers and community leaders to develop their own awareness of how to 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 Rubin. “UnitedHealth HEROES is 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 enhancing 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.”
HEROES service-learning grantees will participate in YSA’s Semester of Service, an extended service-learning framework that links prominent service events such as MLK Day in January and Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) in April. During a Semester of Service program, young people spend the “semester” – a 12- to 14-week period of time – addressing meaningful community needs connected to intentional learning goals and academic standards. Each grantee project will culminate in an event on GYSD, the largest service event in the world.
Obesity is a critical problem in America’s classrooms. 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.
Also, according to America’s Health Rankings®, 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 helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through six operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, OptumHealth, Ingenix and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 75 million people worldwide. Visit www.unitedhealthgroup.com for more information.