It was a beautiful Carolina morning on Thursday, June 16 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. during an event that convened 150 leaders from across the region to discuss youth wellness. The GENYOUth 2016 Carolina Youth Empowerment Town Hall kicked off with breakfast and a student showcase by six Carolina Fuel up to Play 60 schools making positive changes through nutrition and physical activity. The excitement and positive energy radiating from their accomplishments and contributions were contagious.
GENYOUth CEO Alexis Glick kicked off the event, along with Carolina Panthers President Danny Morrison and representatives of the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA). The welcome was followed by a panel discussion addressing the importance of community collaboration in improving and supporting youth health and wellness across the Carolinas. The panelists included:
- Lynn Harvey, Director of School Nutrition Services, North Carolina Department of Instruction
- Fabby Williams, Principal, Northeast Guilford High School
- Edna Chirico, Executive Director, Green Teacher Network
- Erika Carney, Chief Marketing Officer, Skookum Digital Works
Prior to group discussion, we had a brain-and-body break where we danced, stretched and even learned the secret dairy farmer’s handshake (it’s so secret, I cannot even include pictures here).
Table discussions focused on what individuals and organizations can do in 30 days and 90 days to improve the health and wellness environment in their community. Personal commitments included allowing students to “taste test” new foods and recipe ideas, pursuing healthier vending options, contacting local legislators about important school nutrition bills, and interacting with and learning from local dairy farmers.
The day wasn’t over yet. Special guest appearances by Carolina Panther’s kicker Graham Gano and Olympic gold medal swimmer Tyler Clary brought even more excitement to a room already buzzing with energy. Graham and Tyler shared how leading a healthy lifestyle, which incorporates exercise and healthy nutrition habits, has helped them achieve their goals. We also learned both Graham and Tyler’s favorite dairy food is chocolate milk and that Graham starts most days with a cheese omelet and a few pieces of toast, while Tyler ends most days with a milkshake.
The GENYOUth Carolina Youth Empowerment Town Hall was a touchdown thanks to event hosts GENYOUth, SUDIA and the Carolina Panthers; all of the speakers and panelists; event partners Ergotron, Skookum and Sodexo; and all 150 participants.
What can you do in the next 30 and 90 days to improve youth health and wellness in your area? We all can do something and every step we take moves us closer toward empowering students to create healthier futures for themselves and their peers. Your contribution is important, so make that first step!
Paul Moore, MBA, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, CSCS, NSCA-CPT provides continuing education for fitness, personal training, and strength and conditioning professionals through Fitness4Professionals, Inc. In addition to being a registered dietitian, Paul is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Find Paul on Twitter @fitness4pros.