As a journalist and former Wall Street executive, and more recently as CEO of GENYOUth, I have the great honor of speaking to audiences across the country in person, on television, in print and through social media on a range of business, education and health issues that all in some way impact our nation’s youth. As the mother of four children, some of my greatest learnings begin at home and, like so many other parents, those experiences offer me countless learnings and lessons.
Addressing students’ needs
Since I most enjoy speaking directly to students across America, I didn’t hesitate to accept a recent invitation from our local PTA asking me to speak to my eldest son Logan’s high school. The teachers and students that day shared some deeply personal concerns that resonated with me about students’ health, lack of sleep, pressure to succeed, competition and performance. I’ve learned through my work across the nation that breakfast — the meal that puts everything in motion — is the solution for addressing many of these needs and demands on our nation’s youth.
Adequate nutrition first thing in the morning has been shown time and again to impact everything from children’s cognitive function and math and reading scores to better attendance and behavior. School breakfast is one of the easiest and most direct steps we can take to improve our schools across America, while prioritizing for our students a culture of positive health and wellness practices.
Empowering student-led initiatives
We have a tremendous opportunity and mandate to bolster students’ health, wellness and academic performance by getting them involved in creating and driving solutions. I witness first-hand the power of youth at the 73,000 U.S. schools that take part in GENYOUth’s in-school wellness program, Fuel up to Play 60, conducted in partnership with the National Dairy Council and the NFL. The program counts over 57,000 student ambassadors who act as champions in their schools, and through the social entrepreneurship program AdVenture Capital, which funds student-led solutions to health and wellness, those students help ensure their peers eat a healthy breakfast, make time for daily physical activity and find time to recover. Students have devised innovative, healthy breakfasts that include everything from original egg dishes and kale-and-strawberry dairy smoothie recipes to fresh fruits and vegetables from student-managed school gardens.
When empowered, kids really are our best solution generators and that begins with helping them understand and appreciate the many long-term benefits of breakfast.
Alexis Glick, CEO, GENYOUth, [email protected]