Five local organizations receive grants to help fight childhood obesity

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A healthcare company awarded more than $7,000 in grants to several organizations in Indiana, including $5,000 in grants for youth-led projects that address childhood obesity in Indianapolis.

UnitedHealth Heroes, an initiative created by UnitedHealthcare and Youth Service America, issued grants up to $1,000 to programs that include both an activity element and a service component that increases awareness, provides direct service, enables advocacy on behalf of a cause, or features youth philanthropy around the issue of childhood obesity.

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.

UnitedHealth Heroes was 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.

Local UnitedHealth Heroes grant recipients include:

  • Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis received a $1,000 grant to facilitate the Triple Play Run/Walk Challenge at the George Buck Club. Participants will practice the correct way to warm-up and stretch while also learning about hydration and nutrition, good running form and breathing and the value of keeping a regular running log or journal. In addition, fifth- and sixth-grade students will develop creative and informative materials to teach younger children about healthy food habits and physical activity. The program will culminate with a parent night where community members can visit the Club to learn about how walking/running and healthy food habits can combat childhood obesity.
  • New Horizons, an Indianapolis Public Schools program, received a $1,000 grant to design and implement the New Horizons Hikers program. The new hiking program begins this week, and will culminate with a presentation during Family Night on April 26.  Students will take pictures of their hikes and create maps of the areas that they hike, while also tracking the number of steps or miles hiked, calories burned, and points of interest along the routes. The Hikers will present their maps and be recognized on Family Night.
  • Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) received a $1,000 grant to implement the Steps Right Up program. More than 500 students and 200 families from six schools or programs will work together to combat childhood obesity and make healthy lifestyle decisions through education, exercise and nutrition.
  • William McKinley School #39 received a $1,000 grant to develop 39 Steppers, a student-led walking group. Student members will design and implement an after-school walking program for the student body and staff and track the total number of miles walked during the program. The 39 Steppers will present their activity and results at the School 39 Family Night on April 26.
  • George H. Miller School #93 received a $1,000 grant to develop the Wildcat Hiking Club. The Hiking Club’s student members will design and implement a program that will focus on lifestyle and obesity awareness as well as actively engage the students in physical exercise. The club will take at least four hikes during the project period to local city and state parks and host a school Family Fitness and Fun Night on April 26.

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

“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 Dan Krajnovich, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual of Indiana. “By planning, and then participating in the UnitedHealth Heroes program, these youth are working to ‘Step into Service,’ and give back to their communities, as they positively impact the lives of everyone around them.”

A complete list of grant winners and their projects is available online at

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