When I think about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, I think about a boy named Romario. He’s my age. He likes soccer, math, and playing with little kids. He sounds a lot like someone who might be my neighbor, or the kid who sits next to me at school.
But there’s a big difference. Romario lives in a tent in Haiti and for years, has struggled with hunger and a very unhealthy lifestyle.
I have seen it firsthand. I have stood on the dirt roads of his village. I have seen how it looks like there’s no hope for a kid like Romario.
When we talk about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, I think it’s important that we have a clear picture of what an unhealthy lifestyle looks like. Every year, more than 5 million children around the globe die of poor nutrition.
Poor nutrition is at the root of an unhealthy lifestyle. According toWorldHunger.org, poor nutrition intensifies the effect of every disease, including measles, malaria, and pneumonia
So this is where a healthy lifestyle truly begins: With good nutrition, not only here in America, but around the world.
Eating healthy is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. It provides nutrients that your body needs to create new cells, clean toxins, and to function daily. It prevents future diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Now, all of us here have access to nourishing food and clean water – a privilege that many in other parts of the world don’t have. We also have access to education about our health. We know things like: breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we shouldn’t overeat or consume many sweets.
We also understand that it is important to eat a balanced, varied diet of all 5 food groups.
There’s more. Exercising regularly is a huge part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It increases longevity, and helps you sleep well and maintain your weight. Kids should exercise 60 minutes or more daily.
Also, getting enough sleep is very important for having enough energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t think clearly. Most kids need 10 or more hours of sleep every night.
So, to me, a healthy lifestyle is composed of healthy eating, physical activity, and getting enough sleep.
Now, I am fortunate to live in a country, a community, and a home where I have access to everything I need to live a healthy lifestyle: nutritious food, clean water, ways to exercise, and a comfortable bed to sleep in.
But remember Romario? And the millions of children around the world like him? They don’t have these same advantages.
So I want to issue a challenge to you. Because we can’t live a healthy lifestyle here, and keep it to ourselves. We are so blessed to live where we do, and we owe it to our neighbors to give back our good fortune. We can help them live a healthy lifestyle, too. Here’s how:
Support programs like UNICEF, an organization working in more than 190 countries to help children by providing immunizations, nutrition, education and clean water.
Sponsor a child for as little as $35 a month through places like Touch of Hope. These programs help send children to school, where they have access to education and food for a healthy lifestyle.
I am a girl living a healthy lifestyle in Inwood, Iowa. And I am not keeping it to myself. I have committed to helping others live healthy too.
I pay $35 a month to sponsor two kids in Haiti, including Romario.
Before Romario’s community opened up a sponsorship program, starvation was a part of their daily lives. Many people in his village resorted to eating mud pies, a concoction of mud, water, and sugar. The mud pies taste awful and have zero nutritional value, but they keep hunger at bay.
But his community took a stand and changed the lifestyle of over 900 kids, who now get peanut-butter sandwiches for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch, along with an education.
My sister and I are partnering with the school on the exercise portion of the health of these Haitian children. I raised $6,000 to build a playground at the school. And my sister raised $2,000 to build a basketball court. We saw the playground and basketball court during our trip to Haiti over Thanksgiving.
We have more plans to help Haitian children live a healthy lifestyle. But those plans are top-secret. Maybe I’ll come back and tell you another time.
Until then, my question for you is: what are you going to do with your healthy lifestyle?