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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

GENYOUth Summit: Growing Healthy, Active Children

Becoming a True Believer

By Sarah Martin
State Coordinator, Action for Healthy Kids – North Carolina
AHA Executive Committee Member

What do we want for our children in life?  Most adults say that they want their children to have a better life than they themselves have had – they wish for good health, happiness, and success. And yet, across our nation and even worldwide, we are facing mind-boggling statistics on what is being called a worldwide obesity pandemic. You read about it all the time in the newspaper and online…to the point that many of us are just bored with the subject.  But folks, we have to make progress. I truly believe that our schools are the place that we will do just that.

This portable sport ring is perfect for playing ga-ga, among other games. Ga-ga is an Israeli game similar to dodgeball, but players throw the ball and hit other players below the waist. You can jump around to dodge the ball, and you can hit it with a fist or an open hand to deflect it away from you and/or to try to hit another player. If you hit another player above the waist, you’re out. If you throw/hit the ball and it goes out of the ring, you’re out. If you get hit by the ball below the waist, you’re out. If you catch the ball instead of hitting it, you’re out. Last person left in the ring wins.

Earlier this week, I participated in the GENYOUth Foundation Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit in Arlington, Va. I heard from experts across the nation on the science linking good nutrition and physical activity to academic achievement.  I heard from healthy lifestyle leaders across the nation working in their own states, regions, and local communities to make a difference.  I met and talked with celebrities like:

  • Sam Kass, Senior White House Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives and Assistant White House Chef;
  • Carla Hall, TV Chef/Personality and Co-host of ABC’s “The Chew;”
  • Kurt Warner, NFL Veteran; and 
  • Dr. David Satcher, 16th US Surgeon General. 

While the work ahead of us is not easy, I’ve been enthused that it is something achievable.

Believing in Fuel Up to Play 60

GENYOUth is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting childhood obesity.  Its flagship program Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) is a partnership between the NFL and the National Dairy Council. The in-school program empowers youth in more than 70,000 schools across America to improve nutrition and physical activity at their own school and for their own health. It encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. And folks, the program is working. 

Action for Healthy Kids has been a longtime supporter of FUTP60, and I’ve talked with schools in North Carolina that utilize the program and have felt their enthusiasm and excitement about the program. But something changed for me through participation in this Learning Connection Summit – I’m now a true believer in the program. I had the chance to hear student ambassadors from around the country speak about their programs. I heard scientists currently researching the effects of physical activity and nutrition on brain development.  I saw current and retired NFL players speaking with kids and adults alike about the importance of healthy lifestyles. I even went through some exercise drills with some NFL players and veterans (which was super cool!).

Now, I’m ready to spring into action! I’ll be sharing things I’ve learned through this conference with school and community leaders across North Carolina, PTA thought leaders, and folks interested in wellness across our state.  I look forward to moving forward on these issues.  After all, our kids are worth it!

(Additional photos from the GENYOUth Summit are on AHA’s Facebook page.

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