Improving the physical and mental wellness of Texas youth
It’s never too early to get kids thinking about the positive impact of healthy eating and regular exercise. But oftentimes, the biggest challenge is access.
To help remove barriers to access, UnitedHealthcare recently announced $2.5 million in Empowering Health grants to help community-based organizations in Texas meet the needs of underserved communities and uninsured individuals.
The grants will assist families experiencing challenges of food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues and help increase health literacy and nutrition education. Many of the grants focus on improving the well-being of Texas youth through expanded programming.
“Many people think about UnitedHealthcare as being an insurance company,” said Deb Farley, vice president, UnitedHealthcare of Texas. “We like to identify ourselves as a health care company. Empowering Health grants allows us to provide financial resources to important organizations in our community.”
To help drive that point home, former NFL players Chris Calloway, Ryan Terry, Pearce Pegross and Randy Fuller joined multiple UnitedHealthcare grantees in Texas for a kids’ wellness clinic at SpringSpirit in Houston.
The 60-minute clinic featured three parts:
- Fitness station hosted by the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation that included football drills and soccer.
- Nutrition station led by Houston Food Bank and Brighter Bites giving kids the opportunity to learn about healthy eating habits.
- Mental wellness station hosted by National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Houston focusing on family and art.
“The goal is to work with middle and high school students to make the connection for them between nutrition and performance,” said Stephanie Berno, director of Outreach Services with the Houston Food Bank. “How they can be a better athlete or person in general is based on what they are eating. Really learn how to make healthy choices.”
“These organizations are important to promoting nutrition, behavioral health resources, and other types of resources in our communities,” Deb said. “(This) also allows employees and partners to come out to events and to be part of it because it does fill the soul of our employees and makes us feel good about those things we do in our community.”
In total, UnitedHealthcare donated $11 million in Empowering Health grants across 11 states. Since launching its Empowering Health commitment in 2018, UnitedHealthcare has now invested more than $51 million in Empowering Health grants reaching more than 8 million people through partnerships with community-based organizations in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
“We are delighted that UnitedHealthcare chose to support the Houston Food Bank,” Stephanie said. “It is a great relationship, and we are excited to expand our program with nutrition and healthy eating.”