Northville High School Student Inspired By Meeting With First Lady Obama
Robert Hsu, an NHS senior, visited with Michelle Obama late last year about childhood obesity – and it has inspired him to make change in his school community.
Some experts believe that my generation will be the first one not to outlive our parents, which is a shocking and frightening thought. I am fortunate to be a part of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation which focuses on reducing childhood obesity and empowering youth to make healthy choices for life. My passion for health awareness blossomed after seeing my grandmother suffer from a very late diagnosis of diabetes due to a lack of education and healthcare early in life. The Alliance’s empowerME Kid’s Movement focuses solely on educating and motivating youth, and the Alliance’s philosophy that youth should be used to influence other youth is what sets it apart. Through my involvement with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, I was able to have a personal meeting with both First Lady Michelle Obama and Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey to discuss the topic of childhood obesity and school nutrition.
I still remember receiving a phone call from Lizeth Sánchez, a Youth Mobilization Manager at the Alliance whom I have worked with for a couple years. The First Lady was hosting a health forum in Newark, New Jersey, and she chose the location because Mayor Cory Booker had taken numerous steps to create healthier school environments by uniting teachers, parents, and students. I could barely contain my growing excitement as the days counted down to November 18, 2010, the day of the health forum. I sat in the school’s cafeteria nervously for a couple hours with someone else I knew from the Alliance, Chassidy Sumler, along with four kids who attended the school. When the First Lady and Mayor walked in, I shook their hands, and we sat down to talk candidly about the urgency of combating childhood obesity and the importance of school nutrition. I introduced myself and talked about what I have personally done in my school and community, such as teaching kids at the Novi Library health skills and putting together a Red Day at school to raise awareness of healthy living. After a few pictures and a hug from the First Lady, we transitioned into the auditorium, where the public health forum took place. She spoke to the buzzing crowd with fervor, confidence, and inspiration. I will never forget the enthusiastic desire everyone—parents, teachers, administrators, and students — had to create a healthier living environment for all.
From my experience, I am more inspired than ever to continue the work I have done and to include the community on my journey. I am currently trying to implement the Healthy Schools Program at Northville High School and start a School Wellness Council, which would focus on continually addressing the issue of school health, similar to how our school continually finds ways to increase academic performance. The Healthy Schools Program was created by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in order to provide guidelines for schools to follow and resources to use, and there are currently 10,000 schools nationwide participating in this initiative. Perhaps Northville will one day not only be known for its academic excellence, but also its health excellence.