The impact of youth empowerment and the ability to make real, societal change was evident at the recent Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) Student Ambassador Summit in Indiana, July 25-28. More than 200 students and adults from 45 states attended and committed themselves to improving the nutritional quality of school meals and increasing access to physical activity in their schools.
It was so rewarding to meet the people who are making change happen in schools across the country and to witness the legacy of National Dairy Council and dairy farmers’ commitment to child health and wellness come to life. Seeing young people acting as change agents for wellness in their schools and hearing story after story about real health and wellness changes being made in schools from coast to coast brought me to tears of happiness and joy. Students were hungry to learn more about changing their school environments, including learning more about farmers, farming and where their food comes from. Students wrote stories and gave speeches about how they were going to take this information home and incorporate it into their wellness initiatives in their schools.
There was an unbelievable commitment of business and health professional leaders, both students and adults, wanting to help make more change happen in schools and in their communities. Students, adults and guests networked, interacted and learned from each other at the Summit. When you involve students in creating solutions for healthier schools, they want to be involved and will take on the cause head on.
Students have an opinion about wellness in schools and many are willing to do the work and inspire others to join the cause! This Summit showed me that FUTP 60 helps schools and students get more access to physical activity and more opportunities to get the healthy foods they need. And, the students are the secret to success. One student in particular shared his thoughts on what FUTP 60 has meant to his life and how he sees himself and his peers as change-agents.
“This is the power of the student voice. We are the future. We are the crazy ones. And we will change the world,” he said.
Knowing that these students are making healthy changes today and they are our future leaders of tomorrow, I believe our future is in good hands.