Monday September 24, 2012
Categories: Fun, GENYOUth
Together, We Can Identify & Take Action on Opportunities to Improve Our Nation’s Youth
Last week, GENYOUth and our partners hosted the 2012 Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit. My team at GENYOUth knows I like to use the word “bravo” for a job well done. Now, with many months of planning behind us and a great deal of hard work before us, the first thing I feel like shouting out is “BRAVO!” Both the contributions and time of each and every person who participated in the Summit added value, and for that I am exceedingly appreciative.
If you joined us, or took part in the conversation through social media or our website, you have already helped us make a difference.
One of our main goals for the Summit was to bring together a diverse group of people with different opinions and common interests because discourse drives change. We kicked things off with a Leadership Roundtable session, and after sitting for close to three hours, we ate, played and SWEAT with 350+ people at the Nutrition + Physical Activity Night: Fuel Up, Play, Move! It was just the start we needed before we learned together the next day, in which 400 “active” Summit participants made commitments to action beyond the Summit.
Many folks have asked me over the past couple of weeks and months why we decided to host a Summit on the Learning Connection. We did it to raise awareness about the impact nutrition and physical activity have on learning, educate the key stakeholders inside and outside the school building about the science that supports the connection, and foster new partnerships and collaborations. It was not just another meeting – it was about sparking action. We cannot simply sit by and let physical education, physical activity and recess get cut year over year. Nor can we settle for the majority of kids missing out on eating adequate amounts of nutrient-dense foods, those essential for growth and development. As we speak, over 17 million children live in food insecure homes, not knowing where their next meal will come from, and less than half of our nation’s children eat breakfast daily.
The excitement, innovative thinking, unique ideas and knowledge of diverse stakeholders, including the “quarterback stakeholders,” our youth, recharged all the participants to roll up our sleeves and work together toward real progress for sustainable change to the nutrition and physical activity environments in our schools. By improving health and wellness, we may ultimately help propel students’ ability to learn, which will likely help foster healthier, more productive adults – our future business minds and leaders.
There are so many great moments in rotation on my personal highlight reel. While I could write a book to share every detail from the Summit, I am going to do my best to hit the highlights and help make you a part of the Summit through photos and videos.
A landmark roundtable session was held as part of the Summit. It was an unprecedented occasion in which business leaders, health experts, government, educators and students had a forward leaning conversation about how diverse stakeholders from the public and private sectors can collaborate with youth to create healthy kids, healthy schools and better learning. Watch the video highlights to share in the experience.
GENYOUth Pilot student, Juliana Alusik, spoke very candidly to leaders including Audrey Rowe, Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service, USDA and Marianne O’Shea, Director, Quaker Oats Center for Excellence, about breakfast, saying, “if the flavor’s not there, I won’t eat it.” There’s no one better than a kid to give you the real inside baseball on why kids are skipping breakfast.
Nutrition + Physical Activity Night: Fuel Up, Play, Move!
CEOs, business executives, thought leaders, athletes and partner organizations including the American College of Sports Medicine, American School Health Association, National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL) as well as our corporate sponsors Quaker Oats, Dole, and Microsoft, among others, participated in a youth-inspired, youth-led nutrition and physical activity night!
NFL greats Kurt Warner, Ray Rice, Darrell Green and London Fletcher got active with participants in an NFL Play 60 mini-combine and GENYOUth’s brand new physical activity ring, and experienced other interactive games from Microsoft Xbox Kinect and “re-fueling” stations from Quaker Oats, Dole and our joint in-school initiative with NDC, Fuel Up to Play 60. Watch the video below to get inspired!
There were so many times during the evening when I was floored by the energy and spirit of everyone in the room! Nothing quite topped the reverberations that we collectively created when my trainer, Holly Rilinger, led 350 adults and kids through in intense, flash mob-like, ridiculously fun warm up that set the tone for the entire night (and gave me goose bumps!).
Day Two in Brief: Summit Speakers and Let the Work Begin!
The stage was set for the full day Summit by my friend and colleague, 16<sup>th</sup> U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher. He inspires me to do all I can for America’s youth and I know he will inspire you… hear from him in his own words.
Strong Science Supports the Connection Between Nutrition & Physical Activity and Learning
The connection between good nutrition and physical activity is grounded in science. This scientific support, combined with our shared stakeholder interest in fostering healthier children who are ready to learn, is our leverage to continue to make strides for improving nutrition and physical activity programs in our schools. Read the blog post summarizing the presentations from the science experts – Charles Hillman, PhD, University of Illinois, Joseph Donnelly, EdD, University of Kansas and Ronald Kleinman, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.
Participants heard about overcoming hurdles to change and success stories that prove it can be done from Stephen Conley, PhD, Executive Director, American School Health Association and a panel of school leaders including John Skretta, EdD, Joan Wodiska and Kyle Guerrant as well as Shellie Pfohl, MS, Executive Director, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and a panel of First Ladies representing Nebraska and Oregon. Additionally, celebrity chef Carla Hall, School Nutrition Association President Sandra Ford, NDC President Jean Ragalie, NFL great Howie Long and students all demonstrated how hard work, creativity and action can overcome obstacles! Read more here and here to get motivated!
Inspiration from the White House
Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef and Senior Policy Advisor on Healthy Food Initiatives, addressed the audience to share the importance of eating nutritious foods and getting regular physical activity to the Let’s Move! initiative as well as other important programs that are gaining traction and producing action for healthier children.
Continuing our Commitment
Toward the close of the Summit, we challenged folks to share their 30/90s. Members of my team wore pins with the question, “What is your 30/90?” In order to move the dialogue further at the close of the Summit and generate commitments from everyone in the room, we created this interactive session to embolden folks to become a part of the solution.
A 30/90 is a way of looking at immediate solutions to personal nutrition, physical activity, and wellness challenges (or any challenge, for that matter) in the short-term and in the longer-term. It is about developing a specific course of action that will have an impact in 30 days, and a different impact in 90 days. Beyond that, it’s a way of having people make dramatic, on-the-spot commitments to change, to constructive courses of action, that have measurable timetables attached to them. The goal is to illustrate the ways in which anyone can take specific action on wellness challenges that their states, districts, schools, and students — as well as anyone who works in the fields of education and public health — are grappling with.
When I asked Summit attendees to share their 30/90s with the rest of the room, I was blown away by the eager responses and frantic pace at which folks raised their hands. We had a member of the Nevada State Assembly raise her hand to commit to gathering all the key stakeholders in Nevada to host a Summit like ours. We had educators, nutritionists and philanthropic leaders raising their hands to agree to go visit their local school to taste what their child eats for lunch each day. We had corporate leaders agreeing to put more resources behind the effort and to share the scientific learnings with the food formulators in their respective businesses. We had representatives of media raise their hand to do their part to share the statistics, build awareness and increase the dialogue about healthier choices for our nation’s children. It was astounding!
At the very close of the Summit, my dear friend and mentor, Dr. David Satcher, came back to the podium to share his closing remarks. As the “grandfather” of the childhood obesity epidemic, Dr. Satcher knows better than most what is at stake if our children don’t get the attention they need and so rightly deserve. He summed up the day by reading the following quote from Benjamin Elijah Mays:
“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.”
As a CEO and business woman, I am extremely energized, humbled and motivated by the feedback and participation at the Summit and the commitment from so many thought leaders, students, parents, educators, health experts and business and government leaders to continue working with us today to ensure better health and learning for our youth tomorrow. As a mom, I am now more hopeful than ever that the powerful partners and players GENYOUth will continue to convene and collaborate with will make children’s access to nutrient-rich foods and regular physical activity a reality in order to enhance their ability to learn.
The day after the Summit, I met with our Health & Wellness Advisory Council members who were instrumental in the creation and support of the Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Summit. I asked them to kick-off our meeting by sharing each of their 30/90s with the group. As I watched many of my colleagues share their 30/90, I felt I should share my 30/90 as well.
My 30/90 is to make sure I connect everyone who attended the Summit with one another. I will make sure contact information, slides, presentations and the 30/90 Idea Bank are accessible for all to learn from and share. I will continue to make sure I help educate my friends in the media about the Learning Connection to garner their support and commitment to cover this story. I have also asked my oldest son Logan to become a writer. As we speak, he is auditioning to become a kid reporter for Sports Illustrated Kids. And last, but certainly not least, I will write every principal or superintendent to thank them for allowing our youth ambassadors to spend two days with us at the Summit. Kids must be at the center of the conversation. As CEO of GENYOUth, I pledge to you that their voices will be heard and that we will do everything in our power to make sure they get the support they need and the voice they so rightly deserve.
Please take a look at the photos on our GENYOUth Foundation Facebook page and help us keep the conversation going on Twitter with the #FuelUpPlayLearn hashtag. I can’t wait to keep working together to drive real, sustainable change to make a difference for a better future for all!
YOU are advancing the conversation around the power of the Learning Connection to support children’s vitality and performance. YOU continue to teach us about what types of solutions to improve nutrition and physical activity have the legs to stand on and sustain in the schools.
It starts with you!