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Aetna Foundation Awards $163,000 Grant To Landon Pediatric Foundation To Expand And Evaluate Effectiveness Of Online Health Curriculum

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote health in underserved communities, the Aetna Foundation has awarded a $163,000 grant to Ventura, California-based Landon Pediatric Foundation. The funding will be used to expand an online health curriculum to five additional school districts and evaluate the program’s impact on encouraging kids to adopt healthier lifestyle habits.

First piloted in 2011 in schools in low-income communities in Arizona, California and Maryland, My Healthy World offers a K-12 digital health curriculum that combines the fun of online capabilities with a classroom-like health education experience that covers diet and nutrition, exercise and fitness, and disease prevention and management. Students can collaborate on projects using My Healthy World’s social media capability and access the curriculum outside of school with their smartphone or other mobile device. The program also engages parents in the coursework, which can re-enforce healthy behaviors at home.

The Aetna Foundation funding will allow the Landon Pediatric Foundation to expand the pilot program in the 2013-2014 school year to reach as many as 1,000 more students. Among the participating schools are Woodholme Elementary School and Holabird Middle School in Baltimore; Providence St. Mel School and Englewood Charter School in Chicago; Lee Elementary School in Dallas; and Paul Middle School and Stokes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.

Each school participating in the program is eligible for Title 1 funding, federal assistance for schools with high percentages of low-income students.

“With rates of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes particularly high among low-income and minority populations, our schools can play a critical role in addressing this national health crisis,” said Chris Landon, M.D., the Landon Pediatric Foundation's chairman. “ My Healthy World gives educators a new, engaging way of teaching health and wellness education in schools. It focuses on empowering youth to adopt healthy habits and behaviors, and even helps them become change agents for better health in their families.”

Gillian Barclay, D.D.S., Dr.PH., vice president of the Aetna Foundation and director of national grant making, said, “We like the way My Healthy World is aligned with the National Health Education standards and integrates health education with school curricula in a way that can help children really grasp the concepts and put them to practical use every day. What's more, My Healthy World incorporates mobile technology seamlessly, so the health education can continue to be reinforced when they’re at home, on the playing field or in the cafeteria.”

As part of the Aetna Foundation grant, the Landon Pediatric Foundation will conduct an in-depth study of the success of My Healthy World to teach health and wellness and influence student behaviors that can lead to good health. The Landon Pediatric Foundation will recommend improvements to the My Healthy World curriculum based upon its evaluation.

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 $427 million in grants and sponsorships, including more than $14.6 million awarded in 2012. 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 four million hours since 2003. The Aetna Foundation’s 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.

About the Landon Pediatric Foundation

The Landon Pediatric Foundation is devoted to helping students and families live healthier lives. We are proud to partner locally with the Ventura County Health Care Agency, the Ventura Unified School District, and the Healthy Eating/Active Living Coalition of Ventura County to address childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes among youth. The Landon Pediatric Foundation has conducted pioneering work in evaluation methodology for youth education programs.

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