Youth Service America and UnitedHealth Group Offer 'HEROES' Grants to Fight Childhood Obesity - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Youth Service America and UnitedHealth Group Offer 'HEROES' Grants to Fight Childhood Obesity

Administered by Youth Service of America, UnitedHealth HEROES offering grants of up to $1,000 to fund youth-led, service-learning literacy projects focused on childhood obesity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) has partnered with Youth Service of America (YSA) to launch UnitedHealth Heroes, a new program that offers grants of up to $1,000 to support teachers, service-learning coordinators and students in the health professions to engage children and youth ages 5 to 25 to volunteer in leading service-learning projects focused on childhood obesity.

Grants will be awarded to projects 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.

YSA, which will administer the program, encourages applicants to extend their projects over the course of a semester and culminate their activities in a celebration during Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), April 24-26, 2009. A service-learning module - a manual that provides guidance and resources to children and youth who are leading projects around pediatric obesity and healthful living - will be available.

Research shows that service-learning projects (community service integrating curriculum-based learning) that last approximately 70 hours, spanning a school semester, provide opportunities for youth to maximize their learning potential by giving them the appropriate time to plan, research, take action, and reflect on their work while having a positive impact on their communities. (For more information about planning service-learning projects, download the YSA Semester of Service Strategy Guide at www.ysa.org/semester.)

"YSA commends UnitedHealth Group for recognizing the power of children and youth in addressing important problems such as childhood obesity," said Steve Culbertson, YSA's President and CEO. "Young people have enormous potential to encourage healthful habits among their peers."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 percent of young people are obese and 60 percent have at least one avoidable risk for heart disease. YSA and UnitedHealth Group know that health literacy programs that promote balanced diets and active lifestyles for children are crucial towards reversing this trend.

Schools and youth-focused community organizations in the following states are eligible to apply for grants:

-- Alabama -- Arizona -- California -- Colorado -- Florida -- Illinois -- Indiana -- Maryland -- New Jersey -- New York -- North Carolina -- Ohio -- Pennsylvania -- South Carolina -- Tennessee

To obtain a grant 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.

For more information, email healthheroes@ysa.org.

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.

Youth Service America seeks to improve communities by increasing the number and diversity of children and youth, ages 5-25, serving in substantive roles. Founded in 1986, YSA is an international nonprofit resource center that partners with thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries to expand the impact of the youth service movement with families, communities, schools, corporations, and governments. For more information, visit www.YSA.org.

Global Youth Service Day is the largest youth service event in the world and is a year-round effort to expand the impact of the youth service movement. The initiative launches new service organizations, policy changes, and sustainable service programs to create a culture of engaged youth. State Farm Companies Foundation is the presenting sponsor in the United States. Planning Tool Kits, Service-Learning Curriculum Guides, Classroom Posters, Micro-Finance Grants, and more are available for youth, parents, teachers, and organizations.

SOURCE Youth Service America