UnitedHealth Care and Youth Service America (YSA) have come together to offer $1,000 grants for youth-led service-learning projects which aim to combat childhood obesity through walking, running or hiking programs. UnitedHealth HEROES grants include an activity element where young people can count their steps, such as walking, running or hiking, as well as a service component which provides direct service, enables advocacy on behalf of a cause, or features youth philanthropy.
Service-learning projects engage young people in performing meaningful service to the community as they gain new knowledge about the issue they are addressing (childhood obesity), and acquire important college, career, and workforce readiness skills in the process.
Each UnitedHealth HEROES project will begin on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service in January and end on Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) in April.
Here are some examples of past grantees:
Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix - AZ: The I.G. Homes Clubhouse of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix piloted a program to lead kids up and out- literally. The Hiking Club is a student-powered program that guides youth to work together to plan hiking trips along the region's many trails. Students will research trails, learn hiking and nature skills, and work together to plan trips from January to April. The Phoenix area is rich with trails of every length and difficulty, and so youth must critically analyze which trails meet the criteria they set, work closely together to make decisions, plan carefully for contingencies, and communicate their plans, expertise, and enthusiasm for healthy habits to less-experienced youths.
Day One - CA: DayOne Youth Advocate's believe in DOing something to make a difference in their communities. The Hiking 4 Humanity program will bring together Middle and High School students throughout Pasadena Unified School District for an inspiring and motivating hike that includes leadership development and character building activities that inspire social change and civic engagement.
Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice - CT: Youth will participate in group walks to clear streets of litter on Martin Luther King Day and Global Youth Service Day; in the weeks between, they individually will go twice a week collecting street litter and recyclables from their neighborhoods. By walking regularly, the obese youth will lose weight and stay healthy. Moreover, we will have youth track the types of garbage they collect to let them see how large a percentage of that waste is packaging from fast food and ready-made food; in this way, youth will see that the food fueling the obesity epidemic plays a major role in the urban blight problem.
For more information, or the most recent grant announcement, visit http://www.ysa.org/HEROES.