Johnson & Johnson Successfully Combating Childhood Obesity One Student At A Time

Johnson & Johnson Successfully Combating Childhood Obesity One Student At A Time

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Friday, October 19, 2012 - 12:30pm


From Alexis LaScala, Johnson & Johnson Corporate External Relations Team

Recently, I attended a unique event to celebrate and recognize educators from four U.S. cities for their successful implementation of the Johnson & Johnson Gateway to a Healthy Community ™ – Healthier Kids (GHC-HK) program, an innovative effort to help combat childhood obesity. GHC-HK is a core curriculum-based program that emphasizes increasing physical activity in schools in Atlanta, Houston, Newark and Philadelphia. A key component is a proven program called Activity Works (AW) that delivers 12-minute video/audio exercise bursts in classrooms that helps to maximize academic performance and meet state mandates for physical education. Through this program, in just 85 days during the 2011-2012 school year, nearly 28,000 elementary school students in grades K-3 in over 1,100 classrooms in four cities burned more than 61 million calories!

While Johnson & Johnson and the GHC-HK program deserve kudos for leadership and innovation in helping to combat childhood obesity, the stars of the event were the students and the school districts and stakeholders who brought the program to the schools in those four cities.

A highlight of the event I attended at Newark’s Park Elementary School was a live demonstration of more than 100 students who jumped, pushed, pulled, reached and galloped through an AW adventure called Wonders of the World.  Like all Activity Works adventures, Wonders brings learning and exercise together and it was clear that the children were enthusiastically enjoying every moment of it.

As an event attendee, I was impressed by the spirit of partnership and collaboration of the GHC-HK program, and it was evident at the event.  The speakers represented a cross-section of leaders and advocates who helped develop and shape the program.  Two key partners are Microsoft, the technology giant, and a non-profit called the National Minority Quality Forum, that developed with Johnson & Johnson’s support a resource tool to identify pockets throughout the nation where diabetes and obesity are most prevalent.  Stakeholder partners like Newark Mayor Corey Booker and school district representatives praised our program for identifying schools as a fundamental point of entry and catalysts for change to make a difference and noted that focusing on children in grades K-3 is important because that is a time in a child’s life when behaviors are being shaped; putting our nation’s kids on the road to healthier lifestyles and outcomes.

“We know all too well that childhood obesity in the United States, particularly in minority communities, poses an enormous threat to the health of our nation’s children,” said Michael Ullmann, Vice President & General Counsel, who is also the GHC Executive Sponsor.

“Johnson & Johnson is involved because when we looked at the facts, we immediately saw the opportunity to help make life-changing, long-term differences in the lives of children battling obesity and diabetes. The critical call for urgency to help to address the serious public health crisis of childhood obesity requires the involvement and collaboration of individuals, local leaders, policymakers, advocates and health and medical professionals and organizations.  GHC-HK is Johnson & Johnson’s response to the call for action,” he added.