-- Youngsters Prepare for Marathon on May 5 --
HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aetna Inc., and its philanthropic arm, the Aetna Foundation, are lending support to two Pittsburgh organizations – the Sarah Heinz House and the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon -- to help reverse the obesity epidemic’s impact on local children. The company and its foundation are focusing on programs in Allegheny County that help kids be more physically active and develop healthy eating habits, behaviors that can lead to better health over their lifetimes.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than 30 percent of school-children in Allegheny County are overweight or obese, making them vulnerable to diabetes, heart disease and other serious obesity-related health conditions.
“Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed, making today’s young people the first generation of Americans to face a shorter lifespan than their parents,” said Patrick Young, president of Aetna’s Pennsylvania market. “We can reverse this disturbing trend by making sure kids have plenty of opportunities to be physically active in safe environments and can enjoy a healthy diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. Here in Pittsburgh, kids can follow a roadmap to healthier lives offered by the Sarah Heinz House and the program Kids of STEEL presented by Giant Eagle, part of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.”
The Aetna Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Sarah Heinz House to support its Healthy Choices for Life program. Held after school and on Saturdays during the school year, the program provides more than 1,000 kids from primarily low-income families with sports, swimming lessons and fitness activities, healthful meals, and nutrition education at the nonprofit’s headquarters on Pittsburgh’s North Side. The program provides participants with personalized health assessments, including body mass index (BMI) measurements and results from the President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test, and tracks changes over time.
Stanley Pittman, executive director of Sarah Heinz House, said the Aetna Foundation’s support will have a significant impact on its young members. “Our Healthy Choices for Life program is designed to help our kids make positive lifestyle changes that will stay with them as they grow up and be passed on to their families, breaking the cycle of poor nutrition and lack of fitness that can lead to obesity.”
Aetna has provided $10,000 to support the Saturday, May 5th Toyota of Pittsburgh Kids Marathon, part of Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, and its related effort, Kids of STEEL presented by Giant Eagle, a three-year-old, school-based program in the Pittsburgh area that promotes physical fitness and healthy eating. Over the course of 18 weeks, Kids of STEEL participants run, walk, or engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day to log 25.2 miles. Students complete the final mile of a 26.2-mile marathon at the Toyota of Pittsburgh Kids Marathon. In addition to promoting exercise, the program encourages healthier eating by challenging participants to try at least 60 different nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes from a list of 100 options. Nearly 2,000 students from 19 Allegheny County elementary schools are taking part this year.
Aetna employs 600 people in the Pittsburgh area who volunteered 5,820 hours with local nonprofit organizations in 2011.
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed more than $413 million in grants and sponsorships, including $19.2 million awarded in 2011. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.6 million hours since 2003. Our current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org.
Aetna (NYSE: AET) is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.1 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services and health information technology services. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.
About Sarah Heinz House
With a mission “to empower all youth, especially those that need us most, to Laugh, Learn and Lead”, Sarah Heinz House provides over 1,000 members every year with programs in fitness, nutrition, sports, music, dance, art, robotics and leadership development. For more information please visit www.sarahheinzhouse.org.
About Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
The Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon is a nonprofit organization that promotes the love of long-distance running and enhances community involvement in fitness activities through high quality events open to a wide variety of ages and ability levels. Our events will consistently serve the needs of our runners and our sponsors; will engage and reward our volunteers; will enhance the economic well-being of the Pittsburgh region; will partner with public and private entities to create the best possible event experience; and partner with appropriate charitable organizations to give back to the community. For more information, visit, www.pittsburghmarathon.com.