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Childhood Obesity: It takes a village

physical-effects-of-childhood-obesityOn July 26th, 2013  I went to the University of Rochester with Dr. April Luehmann. We went to Helen Wood Hall to go to a meeting that introduced Mr. Carlos Cotto, who is the Executive Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics for the Rochester City School District. Dr.Steve Cook , who’s the Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the U of R Medical Center has also studied childhood obesity. Lastly, Ms.Heidi Burke focused on childhood healthy weight issues. These professional talked about issues of obesity that Rochester as a community is facing. The room wasn’t filled up but there was a good amount of people and you could tell they were interested in what was said at the meeting.

Heidi went first, she mainly pointed out that Rochester alone has a problem with unhealthy food habits and people who are trying new strategies to try and help bring healthier food habits into the lives of children. They are focusing on kids in the city of Rochester ages 4-10 year old (they used to include 2& 3 year olds, but they have decided to narrow their focus to ages 4-10). They did some research and talked to Dr. Cook and the community and everyone agreed that their strategies for healthy lifestyles are looking good. I like when Heidi said, “We realize the issue is not going to be solved overnight, it’s not going to be solved next week and it’s probably not going to be solved in 5 or 10 years but we have to stick with it.” To me she’s saying that even though it may take years before a difference happens we can’t give up as a community. Heidi says, “Parents are really the voice that make things happen at the schools and at the district level that’s who the schools and districts need to listen to.” I agree 100% with that statement, parents’ voices need to be heard at every school and the district needs to take it into consideration.

Carlos was next. In his presentation he said, “It is difficult for schools to achieve their primary mission of education if students and staff are not healthy” which I believe is true. How are we able to teach at a standard level when staff and students in the class aren’t healthy? Their steps to success are to create a wellness team at every school with members from staff all through the school and most importantly the voices of students.  He says, “It’s hard to educate  school students on health.” I agree with that as well, most students may hear what is being said about staying healthy but only very few are really listening and that’s the problem with our society today. I got a chance to ask him questions after the meeting was over. One of  the questions I thought was really cool was the healthy highway which is geared more towards elementary students. The healthy highway is a system of labeling foods with the colors red, yellow and green.Green represents the healthy things you should eat, yellow represents the foods you shouldn’t eat, and red represents the foods that are unhealthy for you. I think all schools should have a system of labeling foods because it may encourage kids to make the right choices and stay on green foods instead of red or yellow foods. I learned that when eating a big mac from McDonalds and trying to work off what you ate calorie wise you won’t burn off the big mac in one day. If you exercise at a fast pace you burn 485 calories in a hour, but a big mac is more around 500 or more calories!

Lastly to speak was Dr. Cook. He pointed out that Rochester alone has a major amount of people who are obese. They are trying to bring Recreation on the Move to the doctors offices to keep kids active while waiting to be called in instead of sitting and watching TV while waiting. The YMCAs are also partnering with DASH-NY on all this work. A quote from the stigma of childhood obesity “The lot of fat children is a sad one. They are bashful and ashamed of their shapeless figures, yet unable to conceal them. Wherever they go they attract attention. Obesity is a serious handicap in the social life of a child, even more so of a teenager. Obesity does not have the dignity of other diseases.” I personally agree and disagree with this quote, yes as a overweight person myself I am sad about it but no I don’t feel that I am shapeless because im bigger then some people. When I go places I don’t attract attention and I don’t feel that because I am overweight that makes me handicap. I may have taken this quote a different way then it was meant, so please comment with your opinion on this quote.

I feel that as an overweight person in New York, there are better choices that I can make to have a healthier lifestyle. Instead of reaching for ice cream, chips, popcorn or anything not so healthy I could be reaching for cherries, yogurt, bananas, or a smoothie which is healthier and will satisfy me. Also, adding more exercise into my daily routine of the day, and making sure I get at least 30 minutes to an hour will also help me to stay fit and healthy. A good point made by Carlos was that you can feed a family at a fast food place for only $15 to $20, whereas at a healthier place you’d spend twice that amount. That is the problem when poverty and bills prevent us from making healthy choices.

I feel it’s important to blog about childhood obesity, because I want to put a stop to obesity around the world. It is killing slowly killing us.

Racism : turning a single human race against each other

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All people are a part of a single human race. That being said, all humans are internally composed of the same substance; the key differences that separate us are people’s physical features. Just because a person does not look similar to what you are comfortable with does not account for the fact that they could genuinely be a good person. In a perfect world we would never have to worry about these things but we don’t live in a perfect world and unfortunately stereotypes have created tensions between races.

One thing that really upsets me is the fact that a person, no matter what age or race, is affected by stereotypes. For example, there are people who talk badly about a young Black male walking down the street with a hood on. They might assume the worst about him such as he is a drug dealer and he is up to no good. These ideas are only because he is a Black male. If it was reversed and he was a young Caucasian boy, people would immediately think there is no cause for alarm.

But racism doesn’t stop there. Racism also has an affect on young women as well; a young Black female is expected to become a dropout and become pregnant at a young age  and to be on welfare. I don’t think that it’s right for someone to talk stereotypically about someone else just because they are a darker skin color; that person may actually plan to go to college and have a career.

People automatically assume that because you’re Black you are on public assistance and this is not true. Yes there is a large percentage of Black people who are on public assistance and that is a tragedy but, it is not entirely because they want to be. Many of them are not educated enough to obtain a job where they can earn a livable wage. I think part of this problem is due to the fact that the public school systems are failing to educate all kids. All kids should have the chance to graduate and continue on to a university or college. I think that if these students actually felt that someone believed in them maybe they can actually go further. Sadly, because people put them down all the time they stick to doing drugs, getting into trouble on the streets or just becoming a dropout.

One thing that I am concerned about is even if Black students get the opportunity, they face new challenges of going on to a college or university, finding funds, and being undermined by other students or professors who don’t believe they can succeeded.

I know we don’t live in a perfect world, but if we lived without racism life would be easier. Racism is one of those judgmental parts of being human but it shouldn’t be that way. We should always look at the cover of a book to get an idea of what we are going to read but we should not decide whether or not we should read it.

As early as the 17th century a scientist named Boyle, believed that all races came from the same source which is Adam and Eve. He studied reports on parents having diverse albinos, so he believes that Adam and Eve were white and were able to have children of any race. Ideas about race has changed over time. For example, Eugenics which was developed by Francis Galton focused on racial issues. There was eagerness to develop a superior race of people based on the proof that there was once a natural race. It was believed that in the “beginning” people were separated locally and each region shared the same aspect and phenotypes.

Today, we are less divergent then before. We are a community of all races. Even though there is still judgments out there we are still becoming a community day by day.