Aetna Foundation Awards $25,000 Grant to Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta Sporting Chance® Program to Help Fight Childhood Obesity

Feb 21 2012
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ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Aetna Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to the Girls Incorporated® of Greater Atlanta (Girls Inc.) for Girls Inc. Sporting Chance®, a program that helps local girls build a foundation for enjoying physical activity, sports and adventure throughout their lives.

In 2010 and 2011, through support from the Aetna Foundation, Girls Inc. taught more than 100 girls how to make exercise fun and build healthy eating habits. Girls Inc. Sporting Chance program participants learned a variety of new skills, including how to play basketball and tennis, jump rope, and run track. The girls, ranging from ages 6 to 18, also learned strategies for making smart nutritional choices to keep their bodies healthy, energetic and strong.

Many of the girls participating in the program live in areas with significant obesity rates and are at risk of becoming obese or overweight.

Sharon Dalton, the Aetna Foundation’s vice president and director of regional grant making, says the Girls Inc. Sporting Chance program offers the kind of dual approach that can effectively fight childhood obesity.

“We know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and regular physical activity can help young people maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses when they are older,” said Dalton. “By offering nutrition education and a wide range of physical activities and sports, the Girls Inc. Sporting Chance program is teaching girls health lessons that can lead to a lifetime of good health.”

Heather S. Rocker, CEO of Girls Inc., says the collaboration between the Aetna Foundation and Girls Inc. is already making a powerful difference for young girls across metro Atlanta.

“We are thrilled the Aetna Foundation has chosen to support us again this year,” said Rocker. “Their 2012 level of giving enables us to provide up to six sessions of the Girls Inc. Sporting Chance program, which has a tremendous impact on the girls the program serves.

“For example, after participating in the program, 96 percent of girls reported an interest in joining a recreational sports team and 87 percent were eating less junk food,” said Rocker. “The Girls Inc. Sporting Chance program is making a difference, and the Aetna Foundation’s continued support is essential to the program’s success.”

Additionally, employees at Aetna, the parent company of the Aetna Foundation, will participate in Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta’s new Strategic Volunteering™ initiative, which allows employees to experience meaningful volunteer placements within Girls Inc. and expand the capacity of the organization to meet its mission.

About Aetna Foundation

The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $394 million in grants and sponsorships, including $15.6 million in 2010. 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 more than 2.3 million hours since 2003. Our 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

About Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta

Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta is a gender-specific, youth serving organization that provides research-based programs helping girls overcome the effects of gender inequity and become self-sufficient, responsible, and economically-empowered women. Since its inception in 1976, Girls Inc. has served approximately 100,000 girls in metro Atlanta. Our partnerships with more than 50 schools implementing informal educational programs designed to encourage girls to make strong, smart and bold decisions and to take informed risks and master physical, intellectual and emotional challenges has resulted in a decrease in teen pregnancy among the population of girls served. Girls Incorporated of Greater Atlanta has positioned itself as a leading organization that addresses the needs of girls between the ages of 6 and 18, from low and moderate income families, who seek safe and creative programs to improve their life outcomes. Girls Inc.’s mission is to inspire all girls to be strong (healthy), smart (educated) and bold (independent).



Aetna Media Contact:
Walt Cherniak, 410-401-9490
Girls Inc. Media Contact:
Amy M. Dawson, 678-357-2630

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