NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 9 UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is giving New Jersey children the opportunity to become "health care heroes" by learning about childhood obesity, designing programs to address it and implementing the programs in their communities.
UnitedHealth HEROES is a service-learning, health literacy initiative designed to encourage young people, working through educators and youth leaders, to create and implement local hands-on programs to address the issue of childhood obesity. Two UnitedHealth Group companies, UnitedHealthcare and AmeriChoice, are launching the program in 15 states.
"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," said Michael McGuire, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare New Jersey. "We believe the best way to combat childhood obesity is to partner with the public and private sectors and the community to address local factors that contribute to the rise in obesity."
Schools and youth-focused, community center-based programs are eligible for UnitedHealth HEROES grants of $500 or $1,000. 10-20 grants will be awarded in total to New Jersey programs that demonstrate a clear understanding of the health risks associated with pediatric obesity; propose creative solutions to combating obesity in their schools and communities; and can be easily implemented, scaled and measured.
To obtain an application, visit www.ysa.org/awards and click on the "Grants and Awards" tab; then click on "UnitedHealth HEROES." The Web site also contains more information about the program and resources for gathering information on the risk factors associated with pediatric obesity. Applications must be submitted online before midnight Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Grant recipients will be notified in February 2009.
UnitedHealth Group is partnering with Youth Service America (YSA) to launch the UnitedHealth HEROES program. Research by Denver-based RMC Research Corp. has shown that young people who participate in service-learning programs improve their academic performance and critical-thinking skills, increase their confidence and sense of potential, and accept leadership roles.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 percent of young people are obese and more than 60 percent have at least one avoidable risk for heart disease.
"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 McGuire. "Now, teams of students can collaborate with teachers and community leaders to develop their own awareness programs to make their schools and neighborhoods healthier. We look forward to seeing the creative ideas our young people come up with to help fight obesity and encourage healthier living."
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (www.unitedhealthgroup.com) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to making health care work better. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through six operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare, Ovations, AmeriChoice, OptumHealth, Ingenix, and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 70 million individuals nationwide.
-- "UnitedHealth HEROES" to award grants to support local programs that help children get and stay healthy
SOURCE UnitedHealth Group