Congressman, Olympian, Colombian, Canadian: Fighting Obesity Through The Boys & Girls Clubs Of America
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer offered the keynote speech at the Youth of the Year awards for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Rep. Hoyer was himself a member of the club in his late teens, and credits it for turning his life around and setting him up for career success.
Rep. Hoyer reminded the audience about how critical it is for young Americans to have positive role models, a safe place to socialize, and adults who believe in them. The BGCA is also involved in reducing and preventing childhood obesity – a national crisis of great medical importance.
Young Carolina Correa, the 2009 Northeast Region Youth of the Year, introduced herself to me at the event. She was bright and confident – and it was only during her speech to the crowd that I discovered that she had survived a triple family homicide in Colombia, moved to the US with her mom and ailing step dad, and worked as a child laborer to provide for her family and younger brother. Thanks to the Boys & Girls Clubs, she managed to overcome all her obstacles and find peace in the midst of her personal storm, achieving academic and athletic excellence in the process.
Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes is a strong supporter of the BGCA – and helps to inspire young members to get fit and pursue athletic careers.
Tomorrow I’ll be moderating the Be Healthy event on behalf of the BGCA. A panel of experts will be revealing promising new research results – demonstrating how BGCA’s Triple Play program has dramatically reduced obesity rates among those who enroll in the program.
With 70% of obese children becoming obese adults, and obesity itself costing at least 10% of all healthcare spending – any program that bends the obesity curve is welcome news. So stay tuned for more coverage on BGCA’s approach to helping kids get fit – and developing lifelong character in the process.
I myself am humbled to spend time with youth (like Carolina) of such character and perseverance. They are truly inspirational.