While adults often talk about the growing problem of childhood obesity in the United States, one teen has decided to do something about it. Chandler Converse, a 15-year-old freshman from Georgia, has launched a grassroots campaign called AKA (Athletics Plus Kids Equals Academics) to help teach kids how to lead healthier lives. Dr. Oz talks to Chandler about her work to promote good health among America's youth.
An avid runner, Chandler says she was concerned by the lack of physical education offerings at her school. She says she voiced her concerns to her local school board, and now she's trying to reach an even greater audience with her message. "Kids have a voice," Chandler says. "You can hear adults speaking, and that's wonderful, but it's called childhood obesity and I think kids need to be heard."
Chandler says good health starts at school. In addition to health education, she says schools need to provide more physical activity for all students, as well as healthier lunch and vending machine food options. "We learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and that's great, but we also need to be taught to lead healthy lives, too," Chandler says.
Moreover, Chandler says kids need to take it upon themselves to get smart about their health and make better decisions. Skip the pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs and soda in the lunch line and opt for sandwiches, salads and fresh fruit, she says. "Be the healthy, freaky person!" she says. "Take this as a challenge for every kid out there—be the one to be the healthy kid who makes it cool. If you set an example, usually other people will follow you."
Published on July 20, 2007