Arizona 4-H and UnitedHealthcare announced a new partnership to promote healthy living and empower youth to help fight 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 Arizona.
At the partnership launch in Arizona, UnitedHealthcare’s mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined 4-H youth and hundreds of community residents at the annual Harvest Festival at the Tucson Village Farm, participating in various learning activities to promote health, fitness and healthy living. 4-H youth led cooking demonstrations, learned gardening tips and participated in educational lessons about healthy eating choices.
During the event representatives from UnitedHealthcare presented a $30,000 check to Arizona 4-H to officially launch the partnership, which is being administered by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and provides 4-H programs to counties throughout the state.
Eat4-Health builds on UnitedHealthcare’s successful partnership with National 4-H Council that began last year in Florida, Mississippi and Texas. The campaign is expanding to Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee. Each participating state 4-H organization 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.
“Arizona 4-H is excited about this new partnership and we are proud to partner with UnitedHealthcare to promote healthy living among 4-H youth and their families here in Arizona,” said Kirk Astroth, Arizona 4-H Youth Development Director at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. “4-H youth are excellent ambassadors to help spread positive messages about the importance of diet and nutrition in our daily lives.”
“We are fortunate to be able to join with the young people associated with 4-H in Arizona and work together in helping make a difference in the lives of so many families in our state,” said Kent Monical, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Arizona. “UnitedHealthcare and 4-H look forward to harnessing the energy and excitement of 4-H youth to promote healthy living and making a positive impact in the communities that will be supported by this partnership.”
Participating 4-H state programs receiving a grant are developing 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 or 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.
About Arizona 4-H
4-H is 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. 4-H programs are implemented by the 111 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System through their 3,100 local Extension offices across the country. The University of Arizona 4-H Youth Development Program provides quality youth education by building positive relationships and life skills. More than 9,000 Arizona youth are enrolled members of 4-H community clubs in Arizona. They are supported by more than 2,000 adult volunteer leaders. Another 132,000 Arizona youth get involved in 4-H through special educational opportunities. To learn more go to: http://extension.arizona.edu/4h.
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.