Project Healthy Lifestyle Uses Knowledge To Fight ObesityTue 07 Jun 2011
Story by Mikeila Nienaber
Knowledge is a powerful weapon to fight the obesity epidemic! Project Healthy Lifestyle has accepted the challenge of empowering people through knowledge to make better healthy living choices.
Project Healthy Lifestyle was inspired and made possible by a grant offered to the best proposal for a project to get the community’s young people involved in fighting childhood obesity.
The proposal I drew up was a lifestyle handbook, created and published by local teenagers. It was designed to address the problem of obesity from a holistic point of view, incorporating three components of healthy living: nutrition, exercise and stress.
I am proud to announce that I won the grant, which is sponsored by UnitedHealthcare and Youth Service America, and the project has been successfully completed. The teens did a wonderful job, covering all three components of the outline in a very concise but informative manner. I was truly impressed with the finished product.
Recruiting young volunteers willing to devote three months to making the handbook was not an easy task. However, by getting the local community involved I found ten very talented teens, who deserve much credit for their persistence in sticking with the project, and completing the handbook on schedule.
It was a very tight schedule! The project was launched on Martin Luther King Day in January. The Healthy Lifestyle Handbook needed to be finished and ready to hand out at the Global Youth Service America Day celebrations on April 16. My volunteers and I met once a week, researching and creating the handbook in a classroom at our local health food store.
Chuck’s Produce and Street Market’s classroom was set-up with everything we needed to get things off the ground. Using a range of technology and resource sources, from Facebook to a National Geographic documentary on stress, the volunteers learned about healthy lifestyles while simultaneously being advocates and teaching others.
One volunteer wrote to tell me what she learned during the project. She said: “After finishing this project, I better understood common misperceptions that people have about healthy lifestyles. I see many things differently now, like diet shakes and energy drinks."
“It is easier for me to understand why people are confused about healthy lifestyles, too. There are so many conflicting pieces of information that can get people confused. I feel proud to have made this handbook, since the group helped to get the correct information about health to people.”
We handed out many handbooks at the celebration, held at our community library. We’re still giving them away, and we recently attended to a local high school health fair. We also have a website where people can download free copies of the handbook: www.projecthealthylifestyle.info
The best news is that through this project and the connections made with the community, Project Healthy Lifestyle is being evolved into a non-profit organization. This will enable me to continue spreading the healthy living message through community classes and websites. I am excited about this journey, and hope to be able to help many people empower themselves to make better choices because they have knowledge about healthy living. I have many creative ideas about how I will make this happen!
About the Author: Mikeila Nienaber is a Master Teacher, and passionate about healthy living. Founding her Health and Happiness Teacher website was the beginning of a journey that would lead to Project Healthy Lifestyle.
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