The Regional Youth Leadership Team gathered in Decorah a couple weeks ago for their second meeting of the year.
They were asked to read an excerpt from the book, “Nudge” prior to the event. “Nudge” initiates thought on issues in our lives and how we can improve the decisions we make, one category specifically… health. At the gathering, students were led on a discussion related to the reading and how they can begin to “nudge” healthy choices in their schools, to their peers and families.
Planning discussion topics can be a challenge when the audience’s age ranges from 5th graders to seniors in high schools to teachers and community members. I was a bit worried this excerpt may have been a bit too challenging and wasn’t sure where the conversation would go and what they’d take away from it. But.. the youth read the article, they contributed to the discussion, and they even proposed plans to address a variety of issues.
To end the day, I couldn’t say goodbye without bringing up policy… a word that doesn’t scream “fun”, but it sure is mighty, and it’s been my goal for our youth to gain a little exposure to it. Fellow Food & Fitness partner, Ashley Christensen, the Safe Routes to School and Active Living Coordinator, had proposed youth take a look at a current action item that could influence policy change. Safe Routes to School initiatives are seeking state funding to support its programs that has not been adopted by many communities.. yet. That’s where youth voices come in… many students and teachers volunteered to write a message in support of this funding that were sent to state legislators. It was neat to see them being advocates, and one entry even surprised me a bit…
… Alas! They are listening! These conversations do matter and it actually is making sense!
These young leaders continue to amaze me and keep me hopeful for this program and the influence it has on them. And.. it reaffirms that I am not crazy, it is normal to expect great things from them. 🙂
“With their enthusiasm, energy, and optimism, youth make things happen in school, even as adults are claiming that it takes too much time, costs too much money, or that kids will never accept it. Energized students need adults who will support them.” – Robert Murray, MD, American Academy of Pediatrics
… we also had discussion on the documentary “Fed Up”, addressing issues that arise from our food system due to federal guidelines for the food industry and nutrition, but that’s a whole other story.. ’til next time.