Continuing its efforts to promote health and wellness in low-income communities, the Aetna Foundation has awarded a $40,000 grant to THINK Together to expand its Healthy Living program to eight elementary schools in El Monte for the 2013-2014 school year. Healthy Living brings together fun physical activities and nutrition education to help kids adopt healthy habits that can support a lifetime of good health. Nearly every school day, kids participating in the program will enjoy 30 minutes of dance, yoga, hula hoop and other pleasurable, non-competitive physical activities led by THINK Together staff. To encourage students and their families to eat more nutritiously, Healthy Living will set up its “Snack Shack” mobile kitchens at the schools to offer lessons in preparing healthy dishes at home. “We know that eating lots of fruit and vegetables and being physically active can help prevent many of today’s lifestyle-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease,” said Sharon Dalton, vice president of the Aetna Foundation and the director of its regional grant-making program. “We are pleased to support THINK Together’s Healthy Living program and help kids in El Monte establish healthy habits at a young age, especially those who have an elevated risk of being overweight or obese.” Anne Turner, Executive Director for THINK Together in Los Angeles said, “Kids in El Monte are at high risk of developing obesity-related diseases without concerted intervention. Our Healthy Living program has a strong track record of improving kids’ physical fitness and making fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods the cornerstone of kids’ diets. We are grateful to the support from the Aetna Foundation that will enable us to reach 800 more kids this year.” El Monte has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in Los Angeles County. About 50 percent of fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders are overweight or obese, according to a 2012 report from the Center for Public Health Advocacy and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The city of El Monte also has few public parks and open spaces, limiting children’s opportunities to play outside. While most California cities average about five acres of open space per 1,000 people, El Monte only has one-half acre of open space per 1,000 residents.
About the Aetna FoundationThe 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 THINK Together THINK Together is one of the leading and largest nonprofit providers of academic support programs (early literacy, after-school, summer learning, etc.) in the U.S., serving more than 140,000 students across 440-plus locations from San Diego to Sacramento. Partnering with school administrators and teachers, its academically oriented programs and dedicated team of nearly 3,000 employees are helping students close the achievement gap. THINK is an acronym: Teaching, Helping, Inspiring & Nurturing Kids. For more information, call (888) 485-THINK or visit www.THINKtogether.org or www.facebook.com/THINKtogether.