Bowie student fights childhood obesity

Just call her a mini Michelle Obama.

Like the FLOTUS, Jodi Evans, a fourth-grader from Bowie, is on a mission to improve the eating habits of the nation’s children.

Jodi, 9, is one of 21 students nationwide who were selected to serve on the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory Board.

The board is one of the only youth-led groups in the country that focuses on issues related to childhood obesity, according to the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, which founded the alliance. And Jodi, a student at Robert Goddard French Immersion School in Prince George’s County, is its youngest member.

“It is important for youth to have a voice in the fight against childhood obesity because youth influence other youth,” Jodi said.

Nasser Abi, the acting principal at Robert Goddard, said he was not surprised to hear about Jodi’s selection to the board.

“She’s a very responsible student, very mature,” Abi said.

As a board member, Jodi acts as a spokesperson for the alliance, meeting with officials and students to talk about making healthy choices. She also is charged with finding ways to make members of her school body and community healthier, and with working to implement those plans.

Jodi, who wants to be a math teacher when she grows up, has developed three ideas: organizing a recess running group at her school in Lanham, planning a run-walk in her hometown and creating a display case at her local library showcasing nutritional foods. She said students who participate in the recess running group for 13 weeks will have the training needed to do the run-walk, which is scheduled for April.

“I want to teach my school about sports,” said Jodi, who has practiced taekwondo for the past four years and received a gold medal in sparring and a bronze medal in poomsae in the USA Taekwondo 2012 Junior Olympics.

Jodi said she tries to tell her friends “what [exercising and eating right] can do for their life. And doing it can change it in a good way.”

The percentage of children aged 6 to 11 in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Jodi Evans, 9, of Bowie, Md. is a member of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Advisory board, a nation group that works to fight childhood obesity. (Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli /ALLIANCE FOR A HEALTHIER GENERATION)

Jodi has a theory about what has caused the epidemic: “They don’t eat the right things, or exercise or do a physical activity to get their body in the shape that it needs to be.”

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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