Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: On the Road with Growing Healthy Kids

"We all need people who will give us feedback.  That's how we improve."  
                                                                                                --Bill Gates

In front of Northaven Elementary School with my cousin, Lincoln Crum and my wonderful mother, Anna.
Talking with kids around the country is always an opportunity to find out what kids are thinking. Recently, I spoke with 5th graders at Northaven Elementary School in Jeffersonville, Indiana (across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky).  After learning that more than half of the kids in the class knew someone with diabetes, I talked about foods kids eat that have no nutritional value, such as the added sugars in processed foods, sodas, and flavored milk.  It was an amazing conversation with a mini-United Nations classroom of children. 

What took my breath away was the bravery of several children who asked questions about family members with Alzheimer’s and cancer.  The fact that 5th graders are aware of these diseases is hard enough to comprehend; the fact that they feel the weight of these diseases on their families and are brave enough to ask for answers is amazing. 
View of Louisville, KY from the new Walking Bridge (old Railroad bridge) across the Ohio River

The fact is that ALL kids are entitled to be healthy and happy. All children deserve access to good foods.  Good foods can put kids on a path free of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.  

We know is that diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer often take years – and sometimes decades – to develop.  These are diseases of older adults, not children.  The Standard American Diet, filled with processed foods full of added sugars, preservatives, food dyes and other artificial ingredients, is not what children should be eating.  The younger kids are when they start on a path towards healthier eating with no added sugars and more whole, plant-based foods, the better their health outcomes will be.

Another view looking east from the walking bridge over the Ohio River.  

What happened at Northaven Elementary School in Jeffersonville, Indiana was a powerful lesson about why all kids deserve access to healthy foods and access to regular physical fitness. 

Thank you to the teachers and principal at Northaven Elementary School.  The children were so polite and attentive.  Thank you to my cousin, Lincoln Crum, for introducing me to the school and to the 5th grade teacher who invited me to share the lessons of Growing Healthy Kids with her students.

We are Growing Healthy Kids, one child at a time.  Because it's what America needs! 

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.