Childhood obesity. It’s a hot-button issue that seems to be on everybody’s mind these days. Every time we pick up the newspaper or switch on the TV, we are bombarded with ominous tidings of health problems plaguing our youngest generation of Americans. But enough of the doom and gloom: We thought it was time to celebrate kids who are staying fit, eating right and inspiring their peers to follow suit. Below, we’ve sought out eight inspiring children who have made a big impact in their communities.
Nine-year-old runner Nik Toocheck bids to complete a marathon on all seven continents to raise $1 million for Operation Warm, a non-profit organization that donates winter coats to underprivileged children. The goal will take Nik to all corners of the globe, from the frigid glaciers of Antarctica to the sweltering African desert. Click here to read more.
Meet teen chef Chloe Rosen, who is on a mission to educate her peers about the importance of healthy eating. This month, the teen health advocate is launching her own service project, the "I PIC My Plate" contest, which is designed to generate awareness around nutrition and healthful choices. Click here to read more.
Most teenaged girls ask for clothing or accessories on their 16th birthdays, but Emma Merritt had a more selfless sweet-16 wish: To give back to the fight against breast cancer. After her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma Merritt rallied friends and family to donate to the Pan-Mass Challenge in lieu of gifts on her sixteenth birthday, raising over $850 for breast cancer research. Click here to read more.
When Riley Dutcher’s elementary school participated in the Jump Rope for Heart event earlier this month, the 5-year-old set a lofty goal for herself: to single-handedly raise $1,000 toward cardiovascular disease and stroke research. Riley jumped in honor of her aunt, Brooke Terrier, who was born with a hole in her heart. Click here to read more.
After suddenly collapsing on the field during a soccer game, 12-year-old Rayah Schwartz learned some scary news: that she was affected by a heart condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome and didn't know it. Hoping to prevent others from going through what she did on the soccer field that day, Rayah launched 26Cares, a service project dedicated to raising awareness about WPW and other heart conditions. Click here to read more.
A student ambassador for the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, Bobby Sena has made a lifelong commitment to staying healthy—and is rallying his peers to follow suit. This summer, Bobby is launching his own service project to plant fruit and vegetable gardens—one at his elementary school, one in his community—to educate peers about the importance of healthy eating. Click here to read more.
After losing a father to prostate cancer in 2009, 14-year-old athletic phenom Winter Vinecki vowed to do something in his memory. The triathlete and runner founded her own non-profit, Team Winter, and races the globe to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer. Click here to read more.
Sixteen-year-old Jack Van Houten has gone to great lengths in order to help out a loved one—1,500 miles, to be exact. In 2011 and again in 2012, Jack Van Houten participated in the Jett Ride, a cross-country cycle tour to raise funds and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a devastating muscle disease in children causing progressive muscle loss and weakness. Click here to read more.
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