Rogelio Barrera Bejarano - Van Nuys, California

Rogelio is a bright 18-year-old athlete and rising senior at California Virtual Academy.  He was born in El Salvador and migrated to the United States at the age of 12. Morena, his mother, traveled to the United States to build a better future for Rogelio and his sister. Rogelio has earned recognition for his excellent citizenship, trustworthiness and musical talents, including an award from the L.A. County Youth and Music Program.  He plays high school football and was the only male cheerleader on his high school squad for two years. In 2009 he received a medal for running the Learning for Life (LFL) 15k race.

In Rogelio’s two years as a Youth Advisory Board member he was able to spread awareness on the importance of eating healthy and being active by teaching empowerME4Life, a healthy living curriculum, to two little league soccer teams. Rogelio was also able to bring healthy snack options to his high school’s homecoming dance, setting the trend that if you eat and drink healthier options you are more likely to get up and move which was the case at his school. A few students were interviewed after the dance and expressed they had more energy eating the fruits and vegetables available to them than the typical chips and soda that is usually served at these types of dances. As Rogelio enters his third year of service on the Youth Advisory Board he plans to combine two of his passions—theater and physical activity. He hopes to incorporate physical activity opportunities with his peers at Blue Moon Theater, a theatrical group directed by Carlos Velis of the Salvadorian Arts Council. Rogelio wants to build in exercise into rehearsal time—allowing actors to incorporate health and wellness into their daily rituals. He is also leading a team in the Rugged Maniacs 5K, bring awareness to childhood obesity issues.    

What motivated you to join the Youth Advisory Board? 

I strongly believe that being a member of the Youth Advisory Board will equip me with all the tools I need to make a change in my community.

If you could tell a peer one thing they can do for a healthier life, what would it be?

Don’t give up hope, it is what motivates you to achieve create success.

What barriers do youth face when trying to live a healthy lifestyle?

One of the barriers that people may encounter when trying to lead a healthier life is discipline, because not everyone has the strong will to overcome their bad eating habits on their own. Video games are also a barrier because kids choose to stay inside instead of being physically active. The most common barrier is peer pressure; most teenagers are pressured by their families, friends, and classmates to make unhealthy decisions.

Why is it important that youth have a voice in the fight against childhood obesity?

Youth must have a voice in the fight against childhood obesity because they know what affects them and if they aren’t heard then it would be like fighting a lost cause.

What difference do you hope to make during your time on the Youth Advisory Board?

During my time in the Youth Advisory Board I hope that my actions could continue to impacts the lives of many youth and adults.


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