UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, awarded more than $3,000 in UnitedHealth HEROES grants to Camp Fire (Baltimore, Md.), Creative Kids (Cockeysville, Md.) and Kennedy Krieger High School Career and Technology Center (Baltimore County, Md.) in Maryland for youth-led projects that address childhood obesity. As childhood obesity rates continue to rise dramatically1, UnitedHealth HEROES supports kids’ creative efforts to battle obesity.
UnitedHealth HEROES is a wellness initiative developed by UnitedHealthcare and YSA (Youth Service America), designed to encourage young people, working with educators and youth leaders, to create and implement walking, running or hiking programs aimed at helping fight childhood obesity.
The local winners in Maryland include:
- Camp Fire (Baltimore, Md.), a youth organization dedicated to helping youth prepare for life, now, will introduce the concept of Urban Hiking. This will prepare youth for a major urban hike/fitness event during the Global Youth Service Day weekend, April 26-28, 2013.
- Creative Kids (Cockeysville, Md.), a nonprofit community center that serves all ages, will present walking and running activities in the form of races and games. The Creative Kids (Cockeysville, Md.) staff will also track the activity by time and steps taken through the use of a regular clock, a stopwatch, and pedometers provided to participants. Additionally, they will teach the youth about healthy food choices, preparing healthy meals and healthy exercise habits. Creative Kids will challenge participants to run faster and walk farther, and to come up with their own effective methods of increasing their physical activity. They will encourage kids to implement the self-developed methods in their own lives.
- Kennedy Krieger High School Career and Technology Center (Baltimore County, Md.), a Maryland State Department of Education accredited, co-educational special education program serving students aged 14 – 21, will conduct a 14-week walking and community service program. Students will walk along the Northern Central Railroad Trail in Baltimore County, Md. and clean litter and debris from the trail, using gloves and trash bags. The program will utilize pedometers to track the distance participants have walked, then students will log this information in a walking journal application to track improvement over the course of the program. The trail provides an inviting environment that will allow students both the freedom and structure necessary in a walking program and community service project. Working and exercising in a team environment is an ideal way to teach workforce readiness skills and self-advocacy in students with disabilities, because of the relationships that are often established among the students.
Grants of up to $1,000 were awarded to youth-led programs that include both an activity element, in which kids count their steps, and a service component that increases awareness, provides direct service, enables advocacy on behalf of a cause, or features youth philanthropy around the issue of childhood obesity. UnitedHealth HEROES grants are available to schools and youth-focused, community-based programs across the country. UnitedHealth HEROES projects will begin on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (Jan. 21, 2013) and end on Global Youth Service Day weekend (April 26-28, 2013).
A complete list of grant winners and their projects is available online at www.ysa.org/HEROES.
“Once again this year, we were amazed by the creative ideas young people came up with to help fight obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles,” said Kate Rubin, vice president of social responsibility, UnitedHealth Group. “By planning, and then participating in the UnitedHealth HEROES program, these youth are working to ‘Step into Service’ and give back to their communities, as they positively impact the lives of everyone around them.”
“UnitedHealth HEROES asks the young people of Maryland to step up to address an issue that directly affects them. The program is changing the way communities across the country think about the role of young people,” said Steven A. Culbertson, president and CEO of YSA. “Kids can be leaders, and through UnitedHealth HEROES, they are teaching other kids—and grown-ups too—about the value of healthy lifestyles.”
Obesity is a critical problem among America’s children. 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.
According to America’s Health Rankings®, obesity is one of the greatest health threats in the U.S. It is a leading cause of preventable death. The direct medical costs associated with obesity in 2008 were estimated at $147 billion. America’s Health Rankings is an annual state-by-state assessment of the nation’s health. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.
1 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.
About YSA (Youth Service America)
Celebrating 25 years of youth changing the world, YSA (Youth Service America) improves communities by increasing the number and diversity of young people serving in substantive roles. Through campaigns such as Global Youth Service Day and Semester of Service; YSA Grants and awards programs; and resources and training opportunities, YSA activates millions of young people each year. Working with and on behalf of youth, adult mentors, organizations and schools, YSA promotes a global culture of engaged youth committed to a lifetime of community action, learning, leadership and achievement.
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.