Three Fort Bend ISD schools will each benefit from a $1,000 UnitedHealth Heroes grant, provided by UnitedHealthcare and Youth Service America to encourage young people to combat childhood obesity through walking, running or hiking programs. Among the 2013 UnitedHealth Heroes grantees are: Quail Valley Elementary School, Missouri City Middle School (which will work with students at Jones Elementary School’s Extended Day Program) and the Shape Up Sugar Land Youth Committee (which will work with students at Armstrong Elementary School’s Extended Day Program).
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 (such as childhood obesity), or features youth philanthropy.
The Shape Up Sugar Land Youth Committee meets with Armstrong students and educates them about the importance of being physically active and leading a healthy lifestyle through walking and moving as much as possible. Youth committee members, acting as mentors, meet with the youngsters at least once a month to talk to them about the value of being active. They provide the students with walking logs and pedometers and encourage them to walk daily and record their minutes of activity.
The students receive incentives, such as jump ropes and water bottles, if they achieve their healthy lifestyle goals. The Youth Committee will work with students until Global Youth Service Day, the end of April. The group will then host a ceremony to celebrate the success of the children that participated in the walking challenge. The Youth Committee thanks Elsa Villarreal, Armstrong’s Parent Resource Center Coordinator, for her support on the project.
Missouri City Middle School’s Move It! Club members work with students at Jones Elementary’s Extended Day Program monthly to get them excited about being active and tracking their steps. They encourage students to go home and continue being active while away from the group in such activities as walking. In between visits, students are asked to keep a journal and be challenged to get others more involved in physical activity. The club’s motto is “each one reach one or more.” They are teaching youngsters different ways to get extra steps in during the day and how to lead healthier lives.
At Quail Valley Elementary School, the Special Olympic athletes are learning about better eating habits and the health risks that can occur with obesity. Once a week at practice, staff members take time to talk about different ways to be active and why it is important to live an active lifestyle. They also ask the student athletes to share different ways they were active the previous week or how they plan to be active in the upcoming week. The team works with the Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Department and other district schools in learning about healthier and more active lifestyles that they can share with the students.