FRANKFORT, Ky. (1/22/13) – United Healthcare, a United Health Group (NYSE: UNH) company, awarded a $1,000 United Health HEROES grant to the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association in Frankfort for its youth-led project to address childhood obesity. As childhood obesity rates continue to rise dramatically, United Health HEROES supports kids' creative efforts to battle obesity.
United Health HEROES is a wellness initiative developed by United Healthcare 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.
With its grant, the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association will establish a Childhood Obesity Youth Advisory Board (COYAB), on which students will commit to investigating issues and solutions to the obesity epidemic. The COYAB will train 20 students from across the state, who will then focus on advocacy efforts, information gathering, and service planning on the state and local level to combat childhood obesity.
With the guidance of adult staff, youth will discuss issues including Safe Routes to School, lack of physical activity in schools and homes, and lack of access to affordable healthy foods. From the issues discussed, students will choose a topic on which to focus a service-learning project. Planning is underway this week, and COYAB members will meet for trainings and meetings with community leaders, public health officials, business leaders, and health educators at least four times throughout the grant period, culminating on Global Youth Service Day in April.
Grants of up to $1,000 were awarded to youth-led programs across the country 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. United Health HEROES grants are available to schools and youth-focused, community-based programs across the country. United Health HEROES projects continue through Global Youth Service Day (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 Paul Brophy, chief operating officer for United Healthcare Employer & Individual of Kentucky. "By planning and then participating in the United Health 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."
"United Health HEROES asks the young people of Kentucky 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 United Health 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.
Information provided by Danielle Waller
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