My name is Ruthie, and I am a sophomore at Giles High School. This is my second year in Y Street and my first year on the Leadership Team. Y Street has allowed me to participate in many opportunities. One of these opportunities was to travel to the 2019 Weight of the State Conference this month to share how Giles High School is working with Y Street to combat childhood obesity.
The Weight of the State Conference is a gathering of teachers, nurses, coaches, school board members, government officials, and healthy Virginia advocates, like myself. The sessions and presentations create an atmosphere to share ideas and success stories about how to fight childhood obesity in Virginia. A few topics that were discussed include the following: gym classes, research findings, cultural effects on eating and exercising in healthy ways, and how school breakfast can help combat this issue.
On Sunday evening, I drove to Short Pump, Virginia and met up with the Y Street team and three other YSLT from across the commonwealth. That evening, we practiced our presentations on stage and we met our fellow presenters. It was a really fun and exciting experience especially as an amateur public speaker.
The next morning, we had breakfast in a large ballroom and I prepared to give my seven minute “Ted Talk” in front of 300 people. I was very nervous but excited at the same time. As I walked up on stage, the crowd was welcoming and attentive. I spoke about my childhood, high school, and the work I am doing in Y Street. One of Y Street’s campaigns is Great Starts with Breakfast which promotes schools breakfast participation and helps kids choose healthier breakfast items which helps combat childhood obesity. In my presentation, I discussed the barriers that prevent students in my county from eating a nutritious, balanced breakfast. I also discussed ways that we get students involved in our campaigns in a fun and inclusive way. With events, giveaways, and fun attractions, it is an easier and more exciting way of encouraging healthier lifestyles for my peers. I also networked with so many people that are all working for a healthier Virginia.
I even learned a few things that I took back to my high school and shared with my team members. I attended a few sessions that gave me new ideas about new breakfast models, running clubs, and more fun ways to get kids excited about healthy living. It was a great experience, and one that I will not forget.