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Reflecting on events from this past year has left many of us with questions about the role of public health in our lives. Yet this much remains clear: We have a collective responsibility as a nation to work together to advance a healthier generation of young people. As a leading children’s health organization, the presiding question for Healthier Generation remains: What does it mean to be healthy today and tomorrow?
2021 was a challenging year for delivering on our organizational impact goal of every mind, every body, every young person healthy and ready to succeed. COVID-19 continues to threaten our physical health, and communities are experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand for social-emotional and mental health supports. Re-exposed wounds of adversity, systemic inequities, and unrelenting toxic stress have especially plagued youth who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) as well as youth from under-resourced communities.
Bearing witness to the experiences of the past year allows each of us to reexamine and redefine ‘health’ in more equitable and inclusive ways, and deepen our resolve to uplift those who disproportionately shoulder the burden of this collective health crisis.
I’m incredibly proud to continue our partnership with Healthier Generation as we together commit to strengthening and improving family health and wellness for communities nationwide.
Many of the challenges [this past year] arose with addressing mental health issues, depression and social emotional issues. Even when the doors weren’t physically open, our counselors were instrumental in boosting morale and coordinating on-line events that promoted attendance and created a sense of normalcy.
Healthier Generation’s celebration of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month featured chef Peter Cho and Sun Park, owners of Han Oak restaurant in Portland, OR. The Cho family, including their two young children, Elliott and Francis, showed us how community connections help them balance work and home life — even amid a pandemic.
The most valuable lesson we’ve learned from becoming parents, running a business, and especially through COVID, is the importance of community... We’re closer to our community than ever before, and taking care of our community is taking care of our family.
Healthier Generation co-created professional development opportunities with young activists from across the country in 2021, including two youth-led virtual town halls: Visioning a Healthy, Equitable Future with Youth and Vaping, Tobacco & Health Equity. We continued sharing our voice with young people by teaming up with 16-year-old Julissa Minaya, an activist and Instagram influencer who is working to build safe and equitable spaces online. Alongside Healthier Generation staff, Julissa trained health and wellness leaders, like Maureen Neumann of the National Recreation and Park Association, who are working to address food security. In a session that explored the intersectionality of nutrition, Julissa shared her perspective as a young person who identifies as Latina, Afro-Latina, Dominican, Black, Puerto Rican, and German.
[An] inclusive & equitable future looks like a future that includes EVERYone.
We extend our sincere gratitude to the many districts, schools, as well as national and community organizations who supported us, collaborated with us, and inspired us through this unprecedented year.
To our founders, donors, and philanthropic partners, including the CVS Health Foundation, Harmony SEL, Kaiser Permanente, and Kohl’s: You made it possible to continue our mission, advancing our equity goals to support the health of the whole child, despite the ongoing challenges wrought by the pandemic.
To our health champions — teachers and administrators, parents, caregivers, and community members: Thank you for working by our side while we build a healthier tomorrow for our children.
To our youth: Thank you for raising your voices, for persevering in trying times, and for inspiring our work every day.
For over 15 years, Healthier Generation’s philanthropic partners have fueled the development of innovative, evidence-based tools and resources that advance the health and well-being of children, families, and educators, building nationwide capacity for a healthier tomorrow. In addition, the success of our spring fundraising appeal, supported by Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, showed how vital individual donors are to ensuring the success of our organizational mission: 162 supporters raised over $10,000.
Our founders and these dedicated supporters make possible our goal of advancing equitable, whole child health in communities across the nation.
Bringing an equity lens to every factor impacting children’s health—from nutrition to education to civil rights—is essential to providing the next generation with the tools to thrive.