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UnitedHealthcare of Alaska Awards Two Grants to Local Organizations


UnitedHealthcare of Alaska has awarded $1,000 in grants to two Alaska-based youth-led organizations to develop programs to fight childhood obesity in their communities. These grants are part of the national effort UnitedHealth HEROES, a community-based, service-learning initiative in collaboration with Youth Service America. The program is especially important in Alaska, where 33.9 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are considered overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Grant recipients in Alaska include:

·         Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska for the “Healthy Habits” curriculum

·         Fairbanks Boys & Girls Club for the “Smart Snack Shack” project


·      “UnitedHealth HEROES” grants support local programs that engage children as learners and leaders of healthy habits

·      Community-focused, service-learning initiative by UnitedHealthcare and Youth Service America

·     More than $187,000 in HEROES grants awarded  to 282 schools and community-based organizations nationwide

ANCHORAGE (Jan. 17, 2012) – As childhood obesity rates continue to rise dramatically1, UnitedHealthcare is supporting kids’ creative efforts to battle obesity through its UnitedHealth HEROES grant program.

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, awarded $1,000 in HEROES grants to two organizations in Alaska for youth-led projects that address childhood obesity. The program is important in Alaska, where 33.9 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are considered overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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.

Grant recipients this year in Alaska include:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Alaska (Anchorage) – “Healthy Habits” – Woodland Park Boys & Girls Club teens will conduct research to understand the issues contributing to childhood obesity in the community and what youth can do to stay healthy and active.  Teens will plan and facilitate the Healthy Habits curriculum and lead fun physical activities with youth to encourage regular activity. The project will kick-off on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 16, 2012) and end with a celebration on Global Youth Service Day (April 20-22, 2012).
  • Fairbanks Boys & Girls Club (Fairbanks) – “Smart Snack Shack” – Children ages 10 to 13 will lead the “Smart Snack Shack” project that includes five stages of service-learning: investigation, preparation and planning, action, reflection and demonstration/celebration to learn more about childhood obesity. Through this project, children will gain knowledge of childhood obesity and how they can address this through food choices and marketing at the Snack Shack. The project events and activities will culminate on Global Youth Service Day (April 20-22, 2012) with a youth-led Kids Health Fair at the Club.

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 www.ysa.org/HEROES.

“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 David Hansen, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Alaska. “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 Hansen.

“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.

1 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

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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