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'HEROES' Grants, Education Guide Support Youth Leaders Addressing Childhood Obesity Epidemic
Date:3/9/2009

Youth Service America, UnitedHealth Group Name Youth as 'First Responders'

in the Escalating Childhood Obesity Crisis

WASHINGTON, March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In order to address the growing childhood obesity epidemic, Youth Service America (YSA) and UnitedHealth Group are supporting youth-led projects that focus on healthy lifestyles by awarding the UnitedHealth HEROES service-learning grants. The two national partners also published an educational guide to help young people and educators develop service-learning activities in their own communities.

Naming children and youth as 'first responders' to this national crisis, HEROES grants challenge youth to find solutions to a crisis that directly affects them. 109 youth-led projects in 15 states received grants that address the childhood obesity epidemic through direct action, such as providing exercise opportunities to children in lower grades; indirect action, such as researching diabetes and its causes and educating peers; and advocacy efforts, such as petitioning the school board to offer healthier cafeteria menu items.

In addition to the HEROES grants, YSA and UnitedHealth Group also published "First Responders: Youth Addressing Childhood Obesity Through Service-Learning". This online education module, available free of charge at www.YSA.org, guides youth, educators, and service-learning coordinators through the process of developing obesity-related, service-learning projects with lesson plans and links to additional resources.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the prevalence for obesity in children ages 6-11 and adolescents ages 12-19 rose from 6.5% to 17% and 5% to 17.6% respectively. Additionally, 80% of obese children at 10-15 years of age were still obese at 25 years old. (Data reflects reports ranging from 2002-2006. See

SOURCE Youth Service America
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