Mississippi 4-H Youth and UnitedHealthcare Host Family Fun and Fitness Day to Promote Healthy Lifestyles

December 07, 2013
  • 4-H youth, families and community leaders joined UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound to participate in hands-on activities designed to burn calories, promote wellness
  • Event included group exercises, dance routines, healthy-eating demonstrations and basketball shoot-arounds to encourage healthy and active lifestyles

UnitedHealthcare and Mississippi 4-H youth hosted a Family Fun and Fitness Day for Jackson-area families to promote healthy eating and exercise at the Mississippi Basketball & Athletics facility.

The event was part of the UnitedHealthcare Mississippi 4-H "Eat4-Health" partnership, now in its third year, which aims to reduce obesity rates among young people and families in the state through youth and community-based education and awareness programs.

At today's event, UnitedHealthcare's mascot Dr. Health E. Hound joined Jackson-area youth, their families,
4-H youth and community leaders, including Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, for fun, healthy activities such as relay races, fitness games, dance routines and basketball shoot-arounds. There were also hands-on cooking demonstrations, healthy-smoothie competitions with a "blender bike," nutrition information and free Body Mass Index (BMI) health screenings.

"This is an innovative program, and I applaud the work by UnitedHeatlhcare Community Plan and 4-H to help raise awareness and educate our youth and their families about their health," said Mayor Lumumba. "They have encouraged youth in a fun, positive way to become more engaged in their eating habits and physical activities."

The activities are part of a series of trainings and events made possible by a $30,000 grant provided by UnitedHealthcare to Alcorn State University Extension Program, which administers 4-H programs to all counties in the state. Participating youth are encouraged to share their experiences within their communities and promote healthy living with their friends and families.

"We're pleased to see our partnership with UnitedHealthcare Community Plan grow and reach new audiences here in Mississippi," said Manola Erby, a program leader for 4-H. "Helping youth make better choices and staying healthy is at the core of 4-H values, and in the past three years we have reached thousands of youth with these positive messages thanks to the support of UnitedHealthcare."

"UnitedHealthcare Community Plan is grateful for the opportunity to continue our partnership with Alcorn State and Mississippi 4-H," said Jocelyn Carter, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi. "These types of events and learning programs administered by 4-H enable us to provide youth and their families with important resources and tools to live healthier lives."

Mississippi 4-H is one of nine 4-H programs around the country receiving a grant from UnitedHealthcare in 2013 as part of the Eat4-Health partnership. Each 4-H program uses the funding to provide innovative, hands-on learning approaches to support healthy-living programs through youth education and community awareness. The goals are accomplished through events such as health fairs, cooking demonstrations, after-school programs, workshops and educational forums, among others. UnitedHealthcare employees team up with 4-H at many of these events and assist with the planning or execution of projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the community and individual level.

The Mississippi Eat4-Health partnership, administered by Alcorn State University, builds on UnitedHealthcare's successful partnership with National 4-H Council that began in 2011. Through the national partnership, UnitedHealthcare has provided more than $1.3 million 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 lead more active lifestyles that include fun and regular exercise.    

According to America's Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation's health on a state-by-state basis, obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. Mississippi is ranked 49th in the nation, with nearly 35 percent of the population considered obese. Obesity continues to be one of the fastest-growing health challenges in the nation.

About Mississippi 4-H
4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. Mississippi 4-H is proud to offer programs and growth opportunities that put the heads, hearts, hands and health of Mississippi's youth to work learning and applying the essential elements of the 4-H program: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. The 4-H Youth program strives to improve the quality of life for Mississippi youth by developing youth potential and by providing hands-on educational programs. Program priorities identified include leadership development, life skills training, developing positive self-esteem, and empowering volunteers. Programs are delivered through local county Extension offices to volunteer leaders. Learn more about Mississippi 4-H at www.mississippi4-h.org or www.4-H.org.

About UnitedHealthcare
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 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

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