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4-H receives healthful grant

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POLLOCK, La. (KNOE 8 News) – The Louisiana 4-H program has again received the $30,000 Eat4-Health grant through National 4-H and United Healthcare.

This brings the total for the two years to $65,000 for the support of healthful living efforts in the state of Louisiana. The amount of the first year's grant was $35,000.

For a number of years, LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development has incorporated healthful living and wise choices into its curriculum as a way to increase the awareness of the obesity problem in the state, according to Lanette Hebert, LSU AgCenter regional 4-H coordinator and co-chair of the healthful living initiative.

With an extension of this grant, 4-H hopes to increase awareness and work toward helping decrease obesity and its related illnesses.

This year's program included a healthful living component at the 4-H Jr. Leadership Conference held at Camp Grant Walker on March 7-8, Hebert said.

"While at camp, the youth-adult team that attended the inaugural National 4-H Healthful Living summit in January conducted a seven-hour course for 30 teens," Hebert said.

The team of four teens and two adults used the lessons and curriculum from the national summit to instruct participants with hopes that the teens will return to their parishes to further the healthful living effort.

"The main focus of the grant is to increase awareness of MyPlate, which is the nutrition guide from the U. S. Department of Agriculture," Hebert said.

"The grant also will provide information to help participants increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as increase their physical activity," she said.

United Healthcare staff presented information on why they are partnering with 4-H and the resources the company has available for parish-based programs.

United Healthcare community outreach specialist Rhonda Winbush, who brought along Dr. Health E. Hound, the company's mascot, said her company provides the grants because it wants to see people live healthier lives.

"We are hoping that if we can get them started at an earlier age, then it will be natural for them when they get older," Winbush said.

Success for United Healthcare would be for the parishes to develop healthful events and positive youth programs, Winbush said.

Louisiana is among 10 states receiving the healthful living grant this year, she said.

LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Nan Arthur from Sabine Parish attended the healthful living summit in Washington, D.C. She is working with the youth who attended the summit to help them prepare other students to become healthful living ambassadors.

"What we're trying to do is help the whole family to start eating better, to manage their diets better and to manage their money as it relates to eating," she said.

The 4-H'ers who went to the summit brought back ideas they are sharing with their fellow 4-H Jr. Leaders to carry back to their parishes.

Chelsea Beasley, a sophomore from Sabine Parish, said the information she received at the national summit is good information that she can pass on to her club and peers.

Tabitha Leonards, a sophomore from Acadia Parish and vice president of the Louisiana State 4-H Food and Fitness Board, said she is currently acting as a health ambassador.

"I attended the healthful living summit, and today we are using the information to teach others about healthful choices," Leonards said.

Each state 4-H organization receiving a $30,000 grant funded by United Healthcare is supporting healthful living programs, events and other activities administered by 4-H that encourage young people and their families to eat more nutritious foods and exercise regularly.

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