Colorado, U.S.A. — Experts agree childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with three in 10 U.S. kids either overweight or obese. Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) joined forces with notable Olympic athletes and youth leaders for the Triple Play Leadership Summit to provide a forum for young people to develop their own solutions for confronting the obesity crisis in their communities.
The Leadership Summit took place at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado and featured American boxer Marlen Esparza, who earned the Bronze Medal in Women’s Boxing at the 2012 Olympics. The weekend symposium focused on community action and engaged approximately 127 Boys & Girls Club kids and staff—representing 42 Clubs from around the U.S.—who were selected based on their commitment to enriching and improving their communities.
At the conclusion of the event, participating youth developed action plans for how they will combat obesity in their own communities by the end of the year. The young leaders will implement such activities as cleaning up parks, reforming school lunch menus and organizing walks and runs to help put other young people on a better path for healthy lifestyles.
“Like many challenges kids face today, the childhood obesity crisis can seem daunting because it has many factors and implications that extend far beyond this generation,” said Esparza. “It was invigorating to be surrounded by so many motivated kids who are taking ownership of this issue and proposing solutions that are developed by kids for kids. It gives me tremendous hope.”
The Triple Play Leadership Summit is a component of the BGCA Triple Play program, supported by founding sponsor Coca-Cola and the WellPoint Foundation, which encourages kids ages 6-18 to eat a balanced diet (mind), become more physically active (body) and increase their ability to engage in healthy relationships (soul).
“The Triple Play program is the premier healthy lifestyles initiative within our organization. The number of obese or overweight children today is more than three times what it was just a generation ago, so this effort is a key part of our commitment to addressing childhood obesity,” said Judith Pickens, Senior Vice President, Program & Youth Development Services, BGCA. “Through this Summit, we look forward to having hundreds of young people extend the Triple Play message and impact beyond Boys & Girls Clubs and into their surrounding communities.”
At the event, Boys & Girls Club kids participated in a mini-Olympic experience where they received hands-on tips from Olympians in a variety of sports. They also engaged in various training activities, including broadcast journalism, public relations and community service. All participants also took part in at least 60 minutes of exercise during their stay.
“Community health challenges are best met with a coordinated community response,” said Lance Chrisman, executive director of the WellPoint Foundation. “The WellPoint Foundation is proud to support Triple Play because we know that healthy habits can last a lifetime and that today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. We look forward to seeing the many outstanding local projects and health-improving efforts that will result from this Leadership Summit.”
“Physical activity and nutrition education are the most important, teachable components in health and wellness,” said Erika Von Heiland Strader, Director, Community Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company. “By supporting the Triple Play program and the Triple Play Leadership Summit, we are not only preparing the youth to live more active lives – we are preparing them for brighter futures.”