Some of our nation's principal thought leaders in child health, physical activity and education met Friday in North Texas, site of Super Bowl XLV, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines an unprecedented private-public partnership committed to child health and wellness.
This historic agreement will bring together the National Football League, leading government authorities, National Dairy Council and Gen YOUth Foundation, a newly formed nonprofit organization that supports efforts to end childhood obesity. MOU co-signers included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack; U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; NDC CEO Thomas Gallagher and Gen YOUth Foundation CEO Alexis Glick. This MOU sets a new precedent for private-public partnerships and cross-department collaboration.
"We are pleased to join this diverse group to collaborate in addressing the childhood obesity epidemic – a problem too big to tackle alone," said Goodell. "The NFL is proud to be a partner in Fuel Up to Play 60, which is making a real and lasting impact in schools across the country."
Launched in 2007 by NDC and NFL, Fuel Up to Play 60 is a customizable in-school program that empowers youth in more than 70,000 schools to improve nutrition and physical activity at their school and for their own health. It encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (including low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Fuel Up to Play 60 has earned recognition across the private and public sectors and additional support has been achieved from multiple health organizations and several major corporations.
"Since more than 50% of a student's daily calories are consumed at school, the school environment is an ideal setting for turning healthy behaviors into lifelong habits," Vilsack said. "To make an impact in schools and beyond, it is critically important to engage kids in an exciting way. Today, we will debut a public service announcement which provides a compelling example of what we can achieve when putting meaningful partnerships to work for kids."
In this spirit of collaboration, a new Foundation, Gen YOUth, launches today. Gen YOUth Foundation will work with schools, communities and business partners to develop and support programs that create lasting changes in the child health and wellness arena, including Fuel Up to Play 60. The mission of the Gen YOUth Foundation is to create a movement that will inspire youth to change their behavior.
Through Gen YOUth, we are building a team of players who are committed to combating childhood obesity. We hope that moving forward, more influencers will respond to our call to action and join us in taking an active role in eradicating the largest public health issue of this generation," said Gen YOUth CEO Alexis Glick.
As the mother of three young boys, I know how important it is to teach healthy choices. But if there isn't support in the school environment, we lose all the momentum we've gained at home. We need to tackle this issue from all fronts."
The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors representative of organizations across the public, private and health professional sectors. The Foundation Board will meet twice a year and will participate in an annual dialogue on childhood obesity with the leading health professional organizations to identify sustainable solutions. Members include 16th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, known for first labeling childhood obesity an "epidemic."
National PTA President Charles Saylors; former NFL player and FOX Sports commentator Howie Long; Washington Post Senior Associate Editor Lally Weymouth; Top Chef All-Star Carla Hall; LALA USA CEO Steve McCormick; and Purdue University Foods and Nutrition Department Head Dr. Connie Weaver. Former financial executive and media personality Alexis Glick will oversee the Board of Directors as Gen YOUth Foundation CEO.
To join Fuel Up to Play 60 and learn more about the program, please visit www.FuelUpToPlay60.com. To get involved with Gen YOUth Foundation and to learn more about how to make a serious impact on the health of America's youth, please visit www.genyouthfoundation.org.