WASHINGTON (March 3, 2011) – 4-H and UnitedHealthcare will launch 4-H’s Youth Voice: Youth Choice programs in underserved communities throughout Texas, Florida and Mississippi to help young people improve their health through exercise, diet and personal safety.
UnitedHealthcare is funding the programs, and its employees will participate in local events in their communities that support the initiative. 4-H and UnitedHealthcare selected Texas, Florida and Mississippi due to high incidences of diabetes and obesity among children living in these states’ underserved communities. The programs will launch in April.
4-H’s Youth Voice: Youth Choice provides grants to state-level 4-H programs and focuses on developing and enhancing healthy living at the community level through activities such as after-school programs, health fairs, camps, clubs, workshops and educational forums. Youth who participate in the programs are encouraged to take action for themselves and their families, and to promote healthy living in their communities.
As part of the partnership, each state 4-H program will develop action plans with targeted goals and outcomes to provide innovative, hands-on learning approaches that target specific community needs. The results will be measured and shared with community leaders, providing other organizations the opportunity to learn and implement similar programs in at-risk communities.
“Health is the fourth ‘H’ in the 4-H pledge and has been a priority for our organization for more than 100 years,” said Donald T. Floyd, Jr., president and CEO of National 4-H Council, America’s largest youth-development organization. “We are thrilled to partner with UnitedHealthcare to reach and educate underserved youth about the vital importance of adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyles.”
“UnitedHealthcare is partnering with 4-H to help ensure children in underserved communities learn skills that will help them enhance their health and well-being,” said Russell C. Petrella, Ph.D., president of UnitedHealthcare Community & State, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company. “Young people who are connected with 4-H are leaders among their peers and are ideal role models to demonstrate how to take action in leading a healthy life.”
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. 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 comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state analysis. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention.
4-H reaches more than 6 million youth each year through clubs, camps and school enrichment programs. UnitedHealthcare Community & State, UnitedHealth Group’s government-sponsored health care program, serves more than 1.9 million children in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Its health plans provide access to health care for more than 2 million children in state Medicaid programs. 4-H and UnitedHealthcare share connections with many of the same public sector and community organizations, including state and county governments and school districts.