Friday, September 14, 2012

Kids champion the fight against obesity

It’s that time again! UnitedHealth Group is putting out the call to all kids who want to be HEROES  by stepping into service to fight childhood obesity across the county and of course, where I sit in the state of Pennsylvania. We are partnering with Youth Service America to launch the fifth year of the UnitedHealth HEROES program, offering grants of up to $1,000 to youth-led, community-based programs and schools supporting the importance of health and wellness among our youth by encouraging kids to count their steps through walking, running, skipping or hiking. And we hope to have made it easier for them by encouraging them to use one of their favorite communication mediums…the social network.  Yes, we are suggesting that kids use the American Heart Association’s Walking Paths and/or OptumizeMe mobile phone apps to track their progress and invite their friends, family and community to join in the fun and fitness.

I’m proud to say that during the first four years of the program, nearly 1,000 UnitedHealth HEROES grants, totaling almost half a million dollars, have been awarded to groups across the country. Earlier this year I detailed the Pennsylvania 2011-2012 recipients. Last year’s programs were so innovative, I can’t wait to see what this year will bring!

To qualify for the grants, the youth-led childhood obesity prevention programs should include a service component that increases awareness, provides direct service, advocates an idea or raises funds to help slow the growing childhood obesity figures. The activities will, appropriately, begin on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service (Jan. 21, 2013) and end on Global Youth Service Day (April 26-28, 2013).

More than 12 million children in the United States are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We’ve all heard such troubling stats before and recognize that childhood obesity is a serious danger. As adults, we know that healthy habits, including physical activity and proper eating, are the easiest and best way to treat and prevent obesity. But, we haven’t exactly been the best role models for our children. According to the CDC, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese.

Maybe it’s time we let the kids give it a try. I know from my own experience as a mother that my sons are always teaching me something. Kids are dedicated, creative, focused and know what will work and inspire their peers, yet sometimes simply lack the means or adult attention to put their ideas in motion. That’s why these grants are so important. There are many young people out there trying to make a difference for themselves and their communities. Who better to mobilize into action against childhood obesity then children themselves?

Applications will be accepted until midnight EST on Oct. 15, 2012 and award recipients will be notified in November. To learn more about the UnitedHealth HEROES program and to apply for a grant, visit Submit your application today and let’s give our kids a chance to set the example of healthy living for us all!

2010 UnitedHealth HEROES award winners

1 comment:

  1. The important points about weight problems in kids are becoming more terrifying every day. More than 16% of kids in the U. s. Declares are now categorized as overweight. And the issue is getting more intense. Over the last few years, the amount of being overweight has more than doubled, and in some situations, it even tripled in certain communities of kids.