Gov. Jay Inslee today announced the launch of the Healthiest Next Generation Council as part of his initiative to improve children’s health in Washington state.
Speaking at today’s “Coalescing for Change: Community-based Health Solutions” conference, the governor described how increasing health challenges such as obesity are compromising the futures of young Washingtonians. As obesity rates climb, health experts warn this may be the first generation of children to have a lower life expectancy than their parents.
“Gold standard research shows we can bend the curve of childhood obesity if we act early in the course of children’s lives and by making health a focus in the places where children spend the most time,” Inslee said. “Focusing our efforts on those children, families and communities most in need will help and pay off the most.”
Inslee, who has made improvements in children’s health a key Results Washington goal, worked with legislators earlier this year to secure funding for his Healthiest Next Generation initiative. The public-private partnership will develop strategies to reduce obesity in children such as promoting breastfeeding, supporting schools in providing more nutritious meal and drink options, and encouraging children to be more active.
The Council’s goal is to identify successful efforts already underway in schools and communities and find ways to replicate or expand those efforts statewide, especially for children and families in most need.
“While I was a principal, I saw first-hand how important health, fitness and nutrition were to educating students,” said Randy Dorn, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. “Without those foundations, it’s tough for students to learn. My staff is committed to assisting schools and communities to promote healthy lifestyles.”
The governor’s Council held their first meeting today to discuss proposed long- and short-term recommendations. Members include the Superintendent of Public Instruction, legislative leaders, district superintendents, K-12 and early learning experts, leaders from private business, health care and community groups and parents and grandparents.
“Seattle Seahawks care greatly about this. It used to be a penalty for kids to go to their room. Now there's TVs and video games in their rooms,” said Paul Johns, Director of Youth Football and Alumni Programs for the Seattle Seahawks. “We need to get kids and their families to play for at least 60 minutes a day. Players go to school to help encourage kids and families. We can do more, and that's why we're with the governor to help with this effort.”
“The Washington State Dairy Council, representing our state’s dairy farmers, partners with private and public partners from across the state, including the Seattle Seahawks, Chelan Fresh and many others to help kids be more active through the Fuel Up and Play 60 program,” said Debra French, Executive Director of the Dairy Council. “We’re pleased to join the Healthiest Next Generation initiative. It’s an ideal partnership with the private sector, education, community leaders and the state for the promotion of health and fitness to our youth.”
“Seattle Children’s is honored and thrilled to be part of the governor’s Healthiest Next Generation initiative,” said Hugh Ewart, Director of State and Federal Government Relations for Seattle Children’s Hospital. “The initiative is launching at a critical time, and can be a force to promote winnable solutions.”