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Youths Should Take Their Health into Their Own Hands

Today’s students have a strong sense of responsibility for their health and wellness. We know because we asked them.

Youth speaks out

At GENYOUth — the health and wellness nonprofit I lead — one of our recent insight surveys of students aged 11 to 17 revealed that nine out of ten youths feel they’re old enough to take care of their health. And 73 percent feel they’re already doing so.

That same survey also revealed that we could be doing more as a society to support youth wellness. The tech sector, for example, has a significant opportunity. Generation Z seems to possess an almost universal fluency for technology and social media, and over half of students are interested in utilizing technology to help them be healthy. Yet only 29 percent are actually using tech to support health and wellness goals like nutrition or physical activity.

Whether it’s a healthy eating app or a mobile fitness tracker, most of what’s out there in the way of health and wellness tech isn’t made by, or with the input of, young people, and isn’t capturing their imagination — even though kids crave such digital support.

Sleep was the focus of another survey. It emerged as another area of concern, with 71 percent of students telling us they’re simply not getting enough rest. Early mornings, schoolwork, long schedules of activities and homework-laden evenings have kids sleep-deprived and stressed. According to the survey, high school students suffer the most.

Putting the power in their hands

Most importantly, we know from experience that empowering youths to be their own change agents is the best answer to many ongoing health issues in our nation. This can, and should, happen at school, at home and elsewhere. That’s why our programs and initiatives put students in the driver’s seat when it comes to creating their own healthy, high-achieving futures ­— through support of their ideas, their projects and their solutions.

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