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Slam Dunk: Aetna and Magic Johnson are scoring new ways to improve health and wellness.

Aetna and an NBA legend are taking health and wellness to new heights. In 2008,Aetna and Magic Johnson Enterprises forged a multiyear relationship to empower businesses and ethnically diverse communities to make informed choices about their health care options by improving health care literacy; showing them the benefits of wellness, exercise and healthy eating; and other initiatives.

"We all know that the health care disparities in urban communities are overwhelming," said Magic Johnson Enterprises Chairman and CEO Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr., an entrepreneur and former Los Angeles takers point guard who led the team to five NBA championships.

"Health care is one of the biggest problems we face, especially with issues like obesity, HIV/AIDS and high blood pressure plaguing our communities. By teaming up with an incredible company like Aetna we can address those issues and educate and help people in urban communities eat better, exercise and do some of the things it takes to help them live healthier lives."

Floyd Green, who heads up Aetna's community relations, said the alliance is helping improve health literacy by "putting together programs and speaking a common language so people can understand what they need to do. If we communicate in a language they speak, then they're able to understand how to access the health care system and get resources they need to live longer, healthier lives."

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Over the past two years, Aetna and Magic Johnson Enterprises have been hosting a variety of community events and community-based initiatives across the United States, such as community health expos with free health screenings, to increase people's comfort with the language of health care, as well as encourage better understanding of treatment needs and better adherence to a physician's care plan.

They're also helping raise awareness of racial and ethnic inequality in health care within communities to empower people to ask questions, seek answers and create a demand for high-quality health care that respects their cultural preferences.

"When you think about HIV/AIDS, black women now make up 60% of all new cases. And many black men don't get regular physicals because we've seen our grandfathers and fathers not do that. We help educate communities about those numbers," Johnson said.

The alliance also addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity. Last year Aetna, the Aetna Foundation and Magic Johnson Enterprises launched a 20-week nutrition and exercise competition in several elementary schools. The program, called the 3-Point Play, encourages kids to move more, eat healthier and make lasting healthy lifestyle changes.

"We show kids what they should be eating and that it still tastes good," Johnson said. They're starting to pass those messages on. "When kids get involved in something they are excited about like this program, then they share information with everyone in their family because they're achieving something for themselves."

The alliance's interactive website, www.communityvitality.com, also helps build healthier lifestyles. "It's important to create a fun, entertaining way to engage children in these activities," Johnson said. "We call it 'edutaining.' If it's not, they won't click on it or be engaged. We want to speak right to them and have them learn to trust us. Once they do, hopefully it's something they'll want to continue clicking on for the rest of theft lives."
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Title Annotation:The Last Word; Magic Johnson Enterprises; www.communityvitality.com
Comment:Slam Dunk: Aetna and Magic Johnson are scoring new ways to improve health and wellness.(The Last Word)(Magic Johnson Enterprises)(www.communityvitality.com)
Author:Chordas, Lori
Publication:Best's Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2010
Words:544
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