I recently had the honor of attending the GENYOUth Nutrition and Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, in Dallas, TX. While there, I learned several important strategies to helping kids eat healthy and be more active:
1) Healthy students are better learners.
2) We can’t do it alone; we must form partnerships.
3) Adults can learn much from listening to children.
Healthy = Happy = Smart
Evidence shows the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating reach far beyond the physical weight management benefits that the media talks about. Physical, emotional, social, and even cognitive benefits have been proven in research. Put simply, healthy students are better learners. When talking to primary stakeholders, this is an important message.
School board members, public officials, and legislators want more productive members of society, and it’s well understood that a solid education is the foundation for that. When talking to various stakeholders, it’s vital that we recognize what information speaks to them, and often, it’s not the numbers, it’s the stories. If this summit proved one thing, it’s that success stories abound, we just need to share them.
1+1+1 = more than 3
Bringing together people from industry CEOs to dairy farmers to PE teachers to public health officials (and everyone in between), this summit exemplified the power of collaboration. Through panels and breakout sessions, we saw that no one can do it alone. Just take a look at what Miami-Dade County Public Schools are doing. It’s evident that the impact of three organizations working together is far greater than the sum of their parts.
Listen to the Kids
Possibly the most poignant parts of this summit were the four speakers under the age of 15. Fuel Up to Play 60 State Ambassadors from around the US shared their answers to some of the most burning questions on the minds of attendees: How do you we get kids to care about being healthy? Why should businesses support wellness? Their responses had many of us floored, teary-eyed, and inspired. These small voices made big noise in showing the importance of listening to our principal stakeholders, the kids themselves. There’s no doubt they are our future and greatest resources.
The National Dairy Council has been working to promote healthy eating and physical activity for almost 100 years. Much credit is given to SUDIA for their support in bringing professionals together to hear the true experts, the kids. Let’s all listen more to them daily and see how we can help paint a brighter future.
Guest post Angie Hasemann, RD, CSP
Angie Hasemann is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Pediatrics who works to motivate kids and help families to eat healthier and build a healthier future at the University of Virginia Children’s Fitness Clinic. Angie is past-president of the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.