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East Central University’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, has been awarded a $500 UnitedHealth HEROES Grant from Youth Service America and UnitedHealth Group.

It is one of 282 UnitedHealth HEROES grants awarded across the nation to support youth-led service-learning initiatives addressing childhood obesity and healthy lifestyles.

The grant proposal was written by Lacie Lawson, a senior majoring in legal studies and president of ECU’s Pi Sigma Alpha chapter. The chapter’s project, “Dance Revolution,” will encourage students at the Ada Boys and Girls Club to lead more active lifestyles by learning dance steps. The $500 grant will be used to purchase a Wii game system and the game Dance Revolution.

Lawson and other members of the chapter will work with the children throughout the spring.

The semester-long initiative kicked off on Jan. 18 when ECU students taught a lesson about Martin Luther King Jr. It culminates in April with Global Youth Service Day, the world’s largest and longest-running youth-led service campaign.

“These grants were extremely competitive, and Dance Revolution exemplifies service-learning and the UnitedHealth HEROES program,” said Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of YSA. “Young people in Ada want to make a difference, and UnitedHealth Group, in conjunction with YSA, offers them resources to make a positive, measurable impact on their community.”

In its 24th year, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) engages millions of young people via partnerships with schools and community and faith-based organizations. Projects and events will occur in more than 100 countries and all 50 states and will address the most challenging local, national and global issues facing the world, including health, literacy, childhood hunger and the environment.

“We believe that children are uniquely positioned to come up with creative ideas to help their peers in the fight against obesity and to encourage healthier living,” said Kate Rubin, UnitedHealth Group vice president of social responsibility. “With UnitedHealth HEROES, we are helping young people take action to improve their overall health and quality of life in a way that’s not only educational, but beneficial for their entire community.”

Rubin said the program is part of UnitedHealth Group’s overall commitment to help stem the rising tide of obesity and related chronic health conditions like diabetes.

For more information about this project, contact Dr. Christine Pappas, Pi Sigma Alpha sponsor, at 559-5640

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