UnitedHealthcare Grant Encourages Physical Activity at Ohio Elementary Schools

It’s not every day students at an elementary school in central Ohio can say they were surprised by two former college football stars and pro football players. But that’s exactly what recently happened to students at Highland Elementary School in Marengo, Ohio.

Former Ohio State and pro football linebackers Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel joined UnitedHealthcare leaders and school officials on May 2 to surprise Highland students with an announcement that had the students ready to climb up the wall.

Carpenter and Schlegel were part of UnitedHealthcare’s PLAYMAKERS program to award a grant to Highland that will provide a climbing wall and new sports equipment. Carpenter and Schlegel led students and staff through a number of exercises and activities, and school officials announced the grant at a morning assembly.

PLAYMAKERS aims to improve young Buckeyes’ health and happiness by promoting physical activity and active play at schools across Ohio. UnitedHealthcare launched the initiative four years ago with support from Ohio State IMG Sports Marketing and 97.1 The Fan.

According to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings, more than 33 percent of children in Ohio ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese, placing the state 36th nationally.

“I want to thank UnitedHealthcare and Ohio State Athletics for this generous grant and their commitment to encouraging physical activity at elementary schools across Ohio,” said Shawn Winkelfoos, principal at Highland Elementary School.

Each week during the 2018 college football season, residents across the state registered for a chance to win an Ohio State prize package including autographed merchandise and the opportunity to designate an Ohio elementary school to receive one of 12 weekly $1,000 PLAYMAKERS grants from UnitedHealthcare. Highland was one of the weekly winners.

From there, Highland and the other weekly finalists were entered into a drawing for a chance to be selected to win the $25,000 top-prize grant, which Highland won.

“UnitedHealthcare is thrilled for the opportunity to provide an innovative program like PLAYMAKERS that promotes and encourages physical activity and active play to improve the health and well-being of Ohio children,” said Kurt Lewis, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Ohio. “This is a fun and direct way of getting our message out across the state.”