More Than $175,000 in Grants Awarded as UnitedHealth HEROES "Step into Service" to Fight Childhood Obesity

Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:30am EST

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* Nearly 200 grants awarded to schools and nonprofit organizations nationwide
* Wellness initiative featuring active service projects from UnitedHealthcare
and YSA (Youth Service America)
* About 1,000 grants, totaling nearly $500,000, awarded since UnitedHealth
HEROES launched in 2009

MINNETONKA, Minn.--(Business Wire)--
UnitedHealthcare is awarding nearly 200 UnitedHealth HEROES grants to help kids
develop programs that will motivate their peers to "Step into Service." Awarded
to schools and community-based nonprofit organizations nationwide, UnitedHealth
HEROES grants will fund youth-led projects, which include walking, running and
hiking, to help fight childhood obesity. 

Grants of up to $1,000 each were awarded to youth-led programs that include both
an activity element in which kids count their steps and a service component that
increases awareness or provides direct service around the issue of childhood
obesity. An example of a program that has been awarded a grant is `Cache` the
Spirit of Health, a project in Lombard, Ill., in which students will count their
steps along trails while searching for geocached treasures. Each of the 100
students has set a goal of walking 50 miles during the course of their project. 

HEROES activities will begin on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (Jan. 21,
2013) and end on Global Youth Service Day (April 26-28, 2013). 

UnitedHealth HEROES is a wellness initiative designed to encourage young people,
working with educators and youth leaders, to create and implement walking,
running or hiking programs aimed at helping fight childhood obesity. A complete
list of grant winners is available online at www.ysa.org/HEROES. 

"Once again this year we were amazed by the creative ideas young people came up
with to help fight obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles," said Kate Rubin,
vice president of social responsibility, UnitedHealth Group. "By planning, and
then participating in the UnitedHealth HEROES program, young people are working
to `Step into Service` and give back to their communities, making a positive
impact on the lives of everyone around them." 

Childhood obesity rates continue to rise dramatically. According to 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. Healthy habits, including physical activity, can
lower the risk of becoming obese and developing diseases related to being
overweight. 

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, released by United Health
Foundation. 

UnitedHealthcare partnered with YSA (Youth Service America) to launch the fifth
year of the UnitedHealth HEROES program. During the first four years of the
program, nearly 1,000 UnitedHealth HEROES grants, totaling almost $500,000, have
been awarded to groups across the country. 

"UnitedHealth HEROES asks young people to `step up` to address an issue that
directly affects them. The program is changing the way communities across the
country think about the role of young people," said Steven A. Culbertson,
president and CEO of YSA. "Kids can be leaders, and through UnitedHealth HEROES,
they are teaching other kids - and grown-ups, too - about the value of healthy
lifestyles." 

About YSA (Youth Service America)

Celebrating 25 years of youth changing the world, YSA (Youth Service America)
improves communities by increasing the number and diversity of young people
serving in substantive roles. Through campaigns such as Global Youth Service Day
and Semester of Service; YSA Grants and awards programs; and resources and
training opportunities, YSA activates millions of young people each year.
Working with-and on behalf of-youth, adult mentors, organizations and schools,
YSA promotes a global culture of engaged youth committed to a lifetime of
community action, learning, leadership, and achievement. 

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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UnitedHealth Group
Courtney Johnson, 952-936-7474
Courtney_T_Johnson@uhg.com

Copyright Business Wire 2013

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