Article

Teaching Today’s Youth to Advocate for Good Nutrition Tomorrow

July 11, 2019

While children are quite literally the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today, too. It humbles me to see how interested students are in better understanding where their food comes from.

Programs like Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program created by National Dairy Council and the National Football League, are nurturing the leadership skills of students, while educating them on the importance of good nutrition and physical activity.

Fuel Up to Play 60 provides students involved in the program with tools and education to empower a lifetime of positive habits related to eating better and getting regular physical activity. Meanwhile, the Fuel Up to Play 60 Youth Council is a group of students who are extremely engaged in their school’s program and have demonstrated leadership experience and dedication. These students are doing amazing things, like representing Fuel Up to Play 60 and their schools at national events and implementing nutrition programs in their schools. They help us better understand what drives their generations’ curiosity and motivation when it comes to their health and we can have conversations to learn with them about the role dairy plays in health and sustainability.

Recently, I asked the group if they get questions from their peers about nutrition. Every student raised their hand. When I asked them if these questions were often challenging, they all raised their hands again. Many of the students said one of the most beneficial experiences through Fuel Up to Play 60 were farm tours. Visiting a dairy farm and speaking with a dairy farmer gave them a firsthand experience that they could share with their peers and helped them learn how to talk about food, nutrition and health. Having the farm tour experience allowed the youth council student leaders to be more confident when answering questions from their peers about dairy foods – from animal care and farming practices to the overall commitment that goes into making dairy foods a reality.

These students are an inspiration. I feel I learn more from them than they do from me. I love witnessing their curiosity and desire to find solutions to help improve the health and wellness opportunities in their schools. They are the leaders of our future, and I’m confident that through the experiences they’ve had through Fuel Up to Play 60, especially on the farm, they will be champions for the role nutritious foods, such as the dairy food group, can play in health and sustainability.