Louisiana 4-H and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan hosted more than 125 youth and adult leaders as part of a statewide training camp earlier this month, designed to promote healthy lifestyles through better food choices, fitness and other hands-on learning activities.
The "Made in the USA – 4-H Food & Fitness Way" took place at 4-H Camp Grant Walker in Pollock and included group activities, educational sessions and interactive discussions aimed at helping fight the nation's obesity epidemic through innovative thinking, learning and lifestyle decision-making. 4-H youth from across the state participated in the weekend events, which focused on the importance of healthy living and enabling and inspiring youth to adopt healthy habits, learn healthy behaviors, and share them with their families and communities.
The event is part of the ongoing partnership between National 4-H Council and UnitedHealthcare called Eat4-Health. Eat4-Health is activating thousands of 4-H youth ambassadors from around the country to make healthy choices for themselves and encourage friends, families and people in their communities to make positive changes through training, creative programs and educational events. It spans 10 states, including Louisiana, which received a $30,000 grant through the LSU AgCenter, which administers the 4-H program in the state.
"These workshops are an excellent way to demonstrate the importance of healthy lifestyles and provide our youth with the tools they need to address obesity among their friends and family members," said Mark Tassin, director of the LSU AgCenter 4-H program. "These kids are extremely creative. We are giving them the information and the tools to make a difference in their communities."
"Eat4-Health is capturing the energy and enthusiasm of our youth and engaging them to solve a national problem," said April Golenor, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana. "UnitedHealthcare shares in the excitement of 4-H and is proud to support this camp and the 4-H program here in Louisiana that promotes active healthy lifestyles."
UnitedHealthcare Community Plan representatives, along with 4-H youth and adult leaders, helped facilitate learning discussions, nutrition training, cooking demonstrations and physical activities. UnitedHealthcare mascot Dr. Health E. Hound attended the kick-off for the camp and engaged youth in simple, fun group activities, and shared nutritional information and healthy-eating tips.
Through Eat4-Health, Louisiana 4-H has developed an action plan to provide innovative, hands-on learning approaches that target specific community needs in the state. Many of these activities are supporting healthy-living programs led by 4-H that encourage youth and community participation through events such as health fairs, cooking demonstrations, after-school programs, workshops and educational forums, among others. UnitedHealthcare Community Plan employees are teaming up with 4-H at many of these events, assisting with planning and executing projects that lead to positive, sustainable change at the individual and community levels.
As part of Eat4-Health, each participating state is organizing youth summits to train 4-H youth ambassadors to implement the programs and help reach the goals in their state. The Louisiana summit, part of the "Made in the USA" camp, is designed to provide a venue where participants learn more about nutrition, health and fitness, and gain new tools for promoting healthy activities in their communities.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, with nearly one in every three children being overweight or obese. Children from low-income and low-education households are three-times more likely to be obese. America's Health Rankings®, an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation's health on a state-by-state basis, indicates that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. The estimated economic cost of obesity is $270 billion per year.
4-H reaches 6 million youth each year, 2.5 million of whom participate in healthy-living programs that promote nutrition, wellness and physical activities. UnitedHealthcare Community & State serves more than 2.5 million children in 25 states and the District of Columbia. In Louisiana UnitedHealthcare Community Plan serves more than 230,000 members, more than 80 percent of whom are children. 4-H and UnitedHealthcare share connections with many of the same public sector and community organizations, including state and county governments and school districts.
4-H is a community of six million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA. 4-H programs are implemented by the 111 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System through their 3,100 local Extension offices across the country. Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H.