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21 Extraordinary Youth Leading the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Alliance for a Healthier Generation Announces 2012-2013 Youth Advisory Board 

(NEW YORK) August 1, 2012 – Twenty-one passionate and committed young people are raising their voices against childhood obesity and inspiring their friends, schools, and communities to live healthier lives.  The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, is proud to announce their 2012-2013 Youth Advisory Board.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board is one of the only youth-led advisory groups in the country focused on childhood obesity issues. With a belief that young people play a crucial role in engaging and educating their peers and in creating healthier communities, the Alliance relies on the Youth Advisory Board to advise the organization on how best to inspire young people to make healthy behavior changes and become leaders and advocates for healthy eating and physical activity.

“We believe that listening to youth perspective and empowering them to make a difference is critical in helping combat this public health crisis,” says Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “The Alliance is committed to supporting the amazing work of our Youth Advisory Board and showcasing the powerful impact youth can have to inspire healthy living in their schools and communities.”

In addition to their role as advisors and thought-leaders on childhood obesity issues, a cornerstone of the Youth Advisory Board is their commitment to service-learning.  Each board member is responsible for initiating healthy changes in their own neighborhoods and school districts by engaging in service-learning programs in their communities. 

Examples of past service-learning programs initiated by board members include:

  • Ashlyn Pinkins, 16, from Gretna, LA, has worked with her school board to implement new health policies and organize annual youth rallies, educating students about the importance of taking care of their health
  • Katie Stagliano, 13, from Summerville, NC is the Founder and CEG (Chief Executive Gardener) of Katie's Krops, her not-for-profit organization. She works hard to feed those most in need by starting vegetable gardens and donating the produce to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and directly to the needy through Katie's Krops.
  • Rogelio Barrera Bejarano, 17, from Van Nuys, CA 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.

Following a nationwide search, the Alliance selected a group of youth ages 8-17 from diverse backgrounds to serve on the Board. These youth leaders are invited to join the Alliance for one year of service based on a combination of factors, including evidence of their passion for living a healthier life and a desire to inspire others to join them.

“It is important for youth to have voice in the fight against childhood obesity because we are the ones living it. In order to combat the problem, those who experience the problem must be involved in the solution,” said Mataio Swain a fourteen-year-old from Charlestown, West Virginia who is returning to his second year of service on the Board.

The members of the 2012-2013 Youth Advisory Board are:

  • Rogelio Bejarano,17, Van Nuys, California
  • Zach Dell, 15, Austin, Texas
  • Guido Dominguez, 12, Miami Beach, Florida
  • Major Dukes, 13, Greensboro, Georgia
  • Jodi Evans, 9, Bowie, Maryland
  • Akansha Jain, 16, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Danyel Jonnson, 11, Sanosteel Tonatchi, New Mexico
  • Bodhi Lovely, 10, Russellville, Arkansas
  • Daniel Muller, 17, Weston, Connecticut
  • Ethan Oro, 14, Menlo Park, California
  • Joe Bear Ortiz, 15, Conifer, Colorado
  • Kyle Ortmeier, 17, Faulkton, South Dakota
  • Ashlyn Pinkins, 16, Gretna, Louisiana
  • Anita Rao, 16, Pearland, Texas
  • Chloe Rosen, 17, Concord, Massachusetts
  • Miranda Rosen, 16, Henderson, Nevada
  • Bobby Sena, 9, Orlando, Florida
  • Sarwat Siddiqui, 16, Staten Island, NY
  • Katie Stagllano,13, Summerville, South Carolina
  • Mataio Swain, 14, Charlestown, West Virginia
  • Haile Thomas, 11, Tucson, Arizona  

Youth leaders, parents, school administrators, teachers and community members all play an important role in inspiring kids to live healthier lives. Visit to learn more about the work of the Alliance’s Youth Advisory Board and how anyone can get involved.

About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation 

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation works to address one of the nation’s leading public health threats – childhood obesity. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices. Founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation, the Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child’s health: homes, schools, doctor’s offices and communities.

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