Children and youth across the country have the opportunity to become “Health Heroes” by learning about childhood obesity, designing programs to address it and implementing the programs in their communities.
UnitedHealth Group and Youth Service America announced the distribution of grants to schools and organizations that implemented youth-led service-learning initiatives addressing childhood obesity using the UnitedHealth campaign “HEROES”
The UnitedHealth HEROES program offers grants of up to $1,000 to help and encourage young people, partnering with schools and nonprofits, to create and implement local hands-on programs to fight childhood obesity. HEROES’ grants have funded 361 programs, engaged more than 20,000 youth, and contributed more than 436,000 volunteer hours.
One of the main purposes of this initiative is to change what the statistics say. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 16.9% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese. Obese children and adolescents are at risk for health problems throughout their lives like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes.
“With UnitedHealth HEROES, we are helping young people take action to improve their overall health and quality of life in a way that’s not only educational, but beneficial for their communities. We believe that as people become more aware of health issues through health literacy and advocacy initiatives, they will make positive changes to live better lives,” said Jeannine Rivet, UnitedHealth Group executive vice president. “We look forward to seeing the creative ideas our young people come up with to help fight obesity and encourage healthier living.”
A Multifaceted Approach
Other popular areas of this program include community gardens and health fairs. The community gardens align the HEROES initiative with the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which promoted gardening as a strategy to excite kids about healthy eating. Health fairs and other outreach promotions placed youth in leadership positions, teaching peers and advocating to the community-at-large about the importance of exercise and healthy diets.
To apply and find additional information about the grants, service-learning, and childhood obesity visit www.YSA.org/HEROES.