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UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop Launch Bilingual Childhood Asthma Awareness and Lead-Poisoning Prevention Initiatives

"A is for Asthma" and "Lead Away!" programs feature tips and activities from Sesame Street characters Elmo, Grover, Bert and Zoe to help millions of kids stay healthy

MINNETONKA, Minn. (Aug 18, 2011 – UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, are launching two child health initiatives: A is for Asthma, an awareness program, and Lead Away!, a lead-poisoning prevention program.

These newly updated programs are designed to help children and their families learn about these health issues and promote positive healthy habits.

Both initiatives are part of UnitedHealthcare's multiyear partnership with Sesame Workshop focusing on the Healthy Habits for Life Initiative, which offers tools and resources to help parents and caregivers develop healthy habits and support children's healthy growth. In addition to the asthma and lead initiatives, UnitedHealthcare is an on-air sponsor of Sesame Street and supports Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget, which provides information to help families make affordable and healthy food choices.

"Sesame Workshop is pleased to extend its partnership with UnitedHealthcare to provide families with free resources and information that can help them keep their children healthy," said Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street.

A is for Asthma: Grover and Big Bird help families learn more about asthma

A is for Asthma is a bilingual education initiative that helps increase families' understanding and awareness of childhood asthma. The program provides simple tips and supporting resources for children and their families to recognize asthma triggers and manage asthma symptoms.

Program materials, including videos, activity sheets and a newsletter that feature Sesame Street characters such as Grover and Big Bird, are available in English and Spanish at sesamestreet.org/asthma.

"Asthma is on the rise, especially among children living in lower-income households," said Russell C. Petrella, Ph.D., president of UnitedHealthcare Community & State, the country's largest Medicaid managed care company. "Our A is for Asthma program with Sesame Workshop offers easy-to-understand information and tips to help children and their families manage this condition and lead healthier and more active lives."

According to the American Lung Association, asthma is the leading chronic illness among children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 7.1 million children, or roughly one in ten, suffer from asthma. In recent years, the number of children with asthma has been on the rise, especially among minority populations and low-income households, which may be more likely to contain common asthma triggers like mold, mildew, fragrance, dust and animal dander.

Lead Away!: Bert and Ernie help families learn about lead-poisoning prevention and lead testing

Lead Away! is a bilingual education initiative that helps increase families' understanding and awareness about the health risks of lead. The program teaches parents and children effective strategies to avoid lead exposure through simple tips and activities that can be easily incorporated into everyday routines.

Program materials, including videos, activity sheets and a newsletter that feature Sesame Street characters such as Bert and Ernie, are available in English and Spanish at sesamestreet.org/lead.

Lead poisoning is one of the most common environmental health problems for children under the age of six. The CDC reports that 250,000 children in the United States between the ages of one and five have especially high levels of lead in the blood. Lead exposure can occur through a variety of sources, including dust, soil, old ceramic or pewter cookware, old pipes, and toys that have not been manufactured or shipped according to regulations.

Although lead-based paint was banned in the United States in 1978, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing estimated that about 40 percent of all permanently occupied U.S. housing units still contain some lead-based paint.

More information about A is for Asthma and Lead Away! is available online at www.sesamestreet.org.

Contact:
Alice Ferreira
UnitedHealthcare
(203) 459-7775
aferreira@uhc.com


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