New York 4-H and UnitedHealthcare announced a new partnership to promote healthy living by launching a new campaign designed to empower youth to help tackle the nation’s obesity epidemic.
The partnership, called Eat4-Health, is activating thousands of 4-H youth ambassadors to make healthy choices for themselves and encourage friends, families and people in their communities to make positive changes through training, creative programs and educational events. It currently spans 10 states, including New York.
At the partnership launch in New York, UnitedHealthcare’s mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined 4-H youth at the New York State Fair to encourage attendees to stay active and eat healthy. During kick-off events with fairgoers at the 4-H Youth Building, UnitedHealthcare and 4-H encouraged hundreds of attendees to participate in simple, fun group dance and fitness activities designed to burn calories and promote health.
Former United States Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman and local community leaders joined in the healthy activities and participated in an official partnership announcement, where UnitedHealthcare presented a $30,000 check to New York 4-H to launch the program. Several Eat4-Health projects were also featured, including interactive theatre presentations developed by Broome County 4-H’ers who performed creative skits focused on healthy living; healthy snack give-a-ways where 4-H youth and educators provided healthy snacks to fairgoers with creative educational messages; and an interactive solar lab and energy bikes that allowed kids and adults to power a blender used to make healthy fruit smoothies.
“This New York partnership shows that our youth are leading the way to help solve the nation’s obesity problem,” said Veneman, who is a member of the National 4-H Council Board of Directors. “4-H and UnitedHealthcare are helping forge real solutions to this serious challenge.”
Eat4-Health builds on UnitedHealthcare’s successful partnership with 4-H that began last year in Florida, Mississippi and Texas. The campaign is expanding to Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as New York. Each 4-H organization in the state is receiving a $30,000 grant funded by UnitedHealthcare to support healthy-living programs, events and other activities administered by 4-H that encourage young people and their families to eat more nutritious foods and exercise regularly. The partnership in New York is being administered through Cornell Cooperative Extension and will focus its efforts primarily in Broome, Jefferson, Madison and Oswego counties, among other regions of the state.
“New York 4-H is pleased to partner with UnitedHealthcare and launch this new campaign to empower youth to help improve the health of their peers, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Valerie Adams, New York 4-H Youth Development Program Leader and Assistant Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension. “4-H youth ambassadors are prepared to work with UnitedHealthcare to make a positive impact on the health and wellness of our nation’s future leaders. Today’s activities are examples of the creativity and excitement 4-H youth are bringing to this campaign.”
“We are fortunate to be able to join with the young people of 4-H in the Eat4-Health program to help make a difference in the lives of so many families in New York,” said Pat Celli, President of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New York. “UnitedHealthcare and 4-H look forward to harnessing the energy and excitement of 4-H youth to promote healthy living.”
Participating 4-H state programs receiving a grant will develop action plans that provide innovative, hands-on learning approaches that target specific community needs in their state. Many of these activities will support healthy-living programs led by 4-H that encourage youth and community participation through events such as health fairs, cooking demonstrations, after-school programs, workshops and educational forums, among others. UnitedHealthcare employees will team up with 4-H at many of these events, assisting with planning and executing projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the community and individual level.
As part of the Eat4-Health campaign, each state is organizing a Youth Summit/Conference to train 4-H youth ambassadors to implement the programs and help reach the goals in each state. The summits will provide the venue where participants will learn more about nutrition, health and fitness, obtain information on promoting health within their communities, and gain new tools for participating in multisession educational trainings and one-time community activities and events. This teen leadership experience will also serve as a launch to a Teen Ambassadors pledge and prepare 4-H’ers to use their increased healthy-living knowledge and skills to make an impact in their own communities.
Online and printed educational materials will enable participants to learn and commit to making healthier choices. To encourage participation, the campaign will provide simple tips for healthy choices when food shopping, preparing home meals and school lunches, when out with friends or at special occasions.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, with nearly one in every three children being overweight or obese. Children from low-income and low-education households are three-times more likely to be obese. America’s Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis, indicates that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. The estimated economic cost of obesity is $270 billion per year.
4-H reaches 6 million youth each year, 2.5 million of whom participate in healthy-living programs that promote nutrition, wellness and physical activities. UnitedHealthcare Community & State serves more than 2.5 million children in 25 states and the District of Columbia. 4-H and UnitedHealthcare share connections with many of the same public sector and community organizations, including state and county governments and school districts.
In 2011 the 4-H/UnitedHealthcare partnership reached more than 40,000 youth and families in three states through hundreds of community events and activities that included distributing positive messages about nutrition and wellness. This was accomplished in creative venues such as healthy-cooking demonstrations, fitness camps, youth forums and community family days. These events were designed to empower 4-H youth in the targeted states to help educate their families and people in their communities about the importance of healthy living through more nutritious diets and increased physical activity in their daily lives. The program targeted communities in Florida, Mississippi and Texas with the greatest need for education, outreach and resources.
4-H is the Youth Development program of Cooperative Extension, a national education system which extends the benefit of land grant universities to citizens across the country. 4-H creates a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA. Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org or follow www.facebook.com/4-H. To learn more about 4-H and Cooperative Extension in New York visit www.cce.cornell.edu or www.facebook.com/CornellCooperativeExtension.
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.