In 2001, 16th U.S. Surgeon General and GENYOUth Foundation Board Member Dr. David Satcher published “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Overweight and Obesity.” In the report, childhood obesity was labeled an epidemic, stemming from poor nutrition and the lack of physical activity. Today, we spend more than $160 billion annually on obesity-related medical costs. This expense is expected to double by 2018. Obesity treatment represents a significant portion of the $2.5 trillion total spent on health and wellness nationwide. Now, more than ever, we need to develop solutions for this monumental issue.
Youth Empowerment Can Help Solve It
Empowering youth is an important aspect of positive social change. Programs and initiatives such as FUTP60 affirm the commitment to youth leadership and work to ensure that youth have the power, the potential, and the resources to create healthful environments that increase their chances for success in school and life. With the release of the GENYOUth Youth Empowerment report, this is an important theme for 2015.
The Town Hall
Participants in the Foundations for Growth: the 2015 GENYOUth Arizona Youth Empowerment Town Hall include a vibrant mix of health and wellness professionals, educators and administrators, area nonprofit leaders, child- and school-wellness advocates of various kinds, Dairy farmers and executives, physical-activity and PE advocates, and business leaders with a stake in healthy, high-achieving students.
The Town Hall is a setting in which all these local stakeholders can come together and make concrete “next step” commitments of time, talent, and treasure to supporting local youth in being change-agents in both school and community.
The Five Areas
There are basically five inter-related topic areas around which Town Hall conversations will be encouraged, with session moderators asking provocative questions to attendees around them:
Youth Empowerment. Empowering youth is an important aspect of positive social change. With its programs and initiatives (FUTP60, AdVenture Capital) GENYOUth affirms its commitment to youth leadership, and is working to ensure that youth have the power, the potential, and the resources to create healthful environments that increase their chances for success in school and life.
The Learning Connection. Reiterating the demonstrable, positive effects of improved nutrition and greater opportunities for physical activity on academic success – a key tent pole in GENYOUth’s platform from the beginning that remains GENYOUth’s “founding principle.”
School Breakfast. The support and expansion of school breakfast remains the single most effective way of meeting the urgent nutritional needs – in addition to the challenges around hunger — of students whose academic success depends on fuel for both body and mind.
Farm-to-School/Nutrition & Agriculture. Today’s students should and must care about where their food comes from – the journey from farm to store to cafeteria to table – and the importance of having and making healthful choices. Arguably, youth empowerment around school and community wellness begins with this crucial knowledge.
The Business Role. Schools can’t do it alone. The corporate/business sector must step up and support initiatives that enable empowered, visionary youth to change the school and community wellness environments. Whether it’s supporting the expansion of school breakfast, helping Fuel Up to Play 60 reach more students locally, or underwriting AdVenture Capital grants in the local region, it is in the interest of area businesses and corporations to support youth – in the end, they are our future customers, workforce, and citizenry.
With lively, carefully emceed and moderated discussion around these five areas, attendees left the Town Hall with a clear view not only of the interrelationships between these important topics, but a specific call-to-action in terms of the concrete steps they can take – and precisely what they can contribute to the cause of a healthier, higher-achieving future for youth locally and nationally.