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11 Grants Awarded in Maryland to Fight Childhood Obesity

scaleAs childhood obesity rates continue to rise dramatically, UnitedHealthcare is supporting kids’ creative efforts to battle obesity through its UnitedHealth HEROES grant program.

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, awarded more than $6,000 in HEROES grants to 11 local youth-serving organizations in Maryland for youth-led projects that address childhood obesity.

UnitedHealth HEROES is a service-learning, health literacy initiative developed by UnitedHealthcare and Youth Service America (YSA) designed to encourage young people, working with educators and youth leaders, to create and implement hands-on programs to encourage healthy eating and healthy lifestyles.

Maryland grantees include:

· Greenbelt Middle School Camp Fire Program – Baltimore City Holds on to Health (Baltimore City)

Program will engage elementary and middle school students in Baltimore to create a service learning project that teaches them life skills in the areas of health and wellness.

· Greenbelt Middle School Camp Fire Program – Hold On to Health Outreach to Hispanic Youth Community (Greenbelt & Langley Park)

Program will engage college and high school students in projects that will encourage younger Hispanic youth to make good decisions about healthy living in Greenbelt and Langley Park.

· Tri-County Youth Services Bureau – TCYSB All Stars Project (St. Mary’s County, Waldorf)

Program will be an education campaign focusing on combating childhood obesity in St. Mary’s County.

· Tri-County Youth Services Bureau – RACE (Read, Act, Cook, and Exercise) 2B Fit (St. Mary’s County Waldorf)

Program uses reading as a method to teach nutrition and encourage physical activity and healthy eating.

· Oakdale High School – Healthy Hearts and Heads (Ijamsville)

A multifaceted program to address the needs of an economically disadvantaged population through education and programming that will improve the health, and subsequently, the academic success of each child.

· Yobics, Inc. – Yobics 4 Kids (Forestville)

A program consisting of yoga, aerobics, sports and isometric exercises designed to reduce the childhood and diabetes rates by helping kids’ ages 5 to 25 by getting in shape, losing weight, learning balance, focus, patience, and healthy eating habits, and improving academics.

· Southern Christian Leadership Conference – Combating Obesity (College Park)

Program will host cultural workouts (Zumba, Steel Pan/ Calypso, African Drums, and Capoeira) at the Nyumburu Cultural Center in February to engage students using vibrant and fun methods of exercise.

· Gwynn Park High School Foods Program – UnitedHealth Heroes of Gwynn Park High School (Brandywine)

Program will promote a school-wide initiative of healthy eating and 60 minutes of fun and engaging physical activity daily.

· Creative Kids – Mind, Mouth, Muscles (Essex)

Afterschool program participants will purchase children’s plain t-shirts and tank tops, decorate them with a fight obesity message, and distribute them to area communities and school children.

· GSCNC Troop 6202 – Water. The Best Possible Choice (Waldorf)

Program will conduct a semester-long service project during which children are provided with the opportunity to drink water during lunch. Troop members will prepare promotional material to educate and inform members about the benefits of water.

· James Hubert Blake High School – Take Your Mark (Silver Spring)

Program will educate parents, guardians and the athletes of Junior and Varsity sports teams in the community about healthy eating habits.

Grants of up to $1,000 each were awarded to programs that demonstrate a clear understanding of the health risks associated with childhood obesity; propose creative solutions to fight obesity in neighborhoods and communities; and can be effectively implemented, scaled and measured. Projects will culminate April 20-22, 2012, on Global Youth Service Day, the world’s largest and longest-running youth-led service campaign.

A complete list of grant winners and their projects is available online at ysa.org.

“We believe that children are uniquely positioned to come up with creative ideas to help their peers in the fight against obesity and to encourage healthier living,” said Jim Cronin, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of the Mid-Atlantic. “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 entire community.

“UnitedHealth HEROES is part of UnitedHealthcare’s overall commitment to help stem the rising tide of obesity and related chronic health conditions like diabetes,” said Cronin.

“When we ask young people to tackle tough issues like childhood obesity, we’re helping to inspire the problem-solvers of today and tomorrow,” said Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of YSA. “UnitedHealth HEROES grants have a ripple effect: the benefits will be seen in communities nationwide now and well into the future. YSA applauds UnitedHealthcare for inviting young people to take action and create healthy communities.”

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.

If left unchecked or untreated, obesity will affect 43 percent of adults by 2018 and will add nearly $344 billion in that year alone to the nation’s annual direct health care costs, accounting for more than 21 percent of health care spending, according to America’s Health Rankings®. 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.

About YSA

YSA (Youth Service America) improves communities worldwide by increasing the number and the diversity of young people, ages 5-25, serving in substantive roles. Founded in 1986, YSA supports a global culture of engaged youth committed to a lifetime of service, learning, leadership, and achievement. The impact of YSA’s work through service and service-learning is measured in student achievement, workplace readiness, and healthy communities. For more information, visit www.YSA.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 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.

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