Grandparents & Seniors
You care deeply about future generations: our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And their physical & mental health worries you more & more…What can you do?
When our organization successfully co-led school recess law advocacy in 2017-2018, our bill sponsor was Chair of the Senate Education Committee—and also a grandmother of 14! And she was worried—and knew that many other parents & grandparents were concerned—about today’s children being too inactive.
(Not to mention that our nonprofit Healthy Future US’s founder is now a grandfather of six!)
When we first started our advocacy for children’s health, we knew that child obesity was growing—though it seemed to be primarily a low-income issue, predominantly among blacks and Latinos.
It also turns out that inactivity and unhealthy nutrition were so widespread, that the odds of developing health issues early in life kept getting worse—whether you are White, Black, Native-American, Asian-American or Latino…and whether you are middle-income, low-income or even wealthy!
We had no idea then that almost 1 in 3 teens would now have prediabetes!
It also turns out that inactivity and unhealthy nutrition were so widespread, that the odds of developing health issues early in life kept getting worse—whether you are white, black or Latino…and whether you are middle-income, low-income or even wealthy!
As many of you know—historically, Type-2 diabetes is a health condition associated primarily with old age. In fact, just several decades ago—Type-2 diabetes was called “adult-onset” diabetes.
Now, inactivity and unhealthy nutrition from toddlerhood onward are so common, that we even have tweens and teens developing Type-2 diabetes.
Does your grandchild have prediabetes—or even diabetes? Are you sure? Nearly 1 in 3 odds among teens across incomes & ethnicities are not good.
Warning: in contrast with obesity, prediabetes has been increasing invisibly—because our teens did not yet have obvious symptoms…and who ever heard of doing diabetes-related blood tests on teenagers anyway—until now!
While the root causes of inactivity and unhealthy nutrition were the same for both obesity and diabetes, prediabetes was hiding in plain sight—even among normal weight kids!
Teen Mental Health & Social Media Harm
As for kids’ mental health: We all know that teenagers go through mood swings, including times when they feel “down”.
But the long-term growth of teens reporting prolonged periods of disabling sadness (i.e., interfering with regular activities, often indicating depression), and teens reporting they had planned or even attempted suicide, is shocking.
Researchers think that social media has a lot to do with the growth of harmful thoughts over the last decade—as teen smartphone use grew and social media mushroomed.
Parents (and grandparents!) are very concerned—but often don’t know what to do.
Some people are worried about schools taking over parental roles. Clearly, parental rights must be respected. And parents should be able to opt out of school support for developing healthy habits, if parents prefer to handle this completely by themselves.
But can they teach their children healthier habits successfully enough, on their own?
Unfortunately, the results are in: the majority of parents are struggling to improve their children’s physical & mental health just by themselves.
All parents want their teenagers to be mentally and physically healthy and to be successful in life—and most parents are grateful for assistance with that.
Parents cannot be replaced by schools. But parents do count on schools to help educate their children for success in life—in a wide range of ways, that parents often have neither the time nor the training to do by themselves.
Unfortunately, whatever most kids are learning at home is clearly not protecting their physical or mental health enough for them to lead healthy lives.
Since “health is the greatest wealth”—why are we allowing future generations to be harmed with preventable health issues…from so early in life?!?
As health risks grow, we all need to work together to prepare our children for a healthier future.
How Can We Improve This? Healthy Students Healthy State.
What is more: how will our grandchildren be able to afford to pay for their health costs, if most of them have chronic conditions from their teen years or their 20s or 30s?
And remember, even if your own kids & grandkids are healthy—in our country:
the healthy people pay the same insurance premiums (except for nonsmokers), and the same taxes for government-funded health care (such as Medicare & Medicaid), as unhealthy people—even though heathy people’s health care costs are much lower.
In other words, healthy people heavily subsidize unhealthy people.
Our schools are the only practical affordable setting to address such widespread issues.
Quality physical education, recess and other physical activity at school are the only proven way to keep children active on a regular basis—whatever they are doing outside school. And regular activity also has a huge positive impact on mental health.
Listen to what grandchildren (in this case, middle school students from a wide variety of backgrounds) have to say about their physical education.
How Can I Help?
We do not need your money. We have wealthy individuals and foundations to support us financially.
But to get the large-scale public-private funding that we need to invest, in order to develop healthier habits K-12, your involvement could really help.
We need your help in getting the word out—not your money!
Red-state legislators such as in Arizona listen especially to seniors, who tend to vote regularly and more conservatively. And many seniors have more time available now, than when they were working and parenting full-time.
The main thing we need from you is to occasionally contact legislators, your health care plan, or others.
You can do as much or as little as you choose.
We will give you all the information you need. All you really need to do is contact your legislator—by sending an email or letter, or picking up the phone—a few times each year. We will even have some suggested talking points for you!
No matter how much or how little time you spend supporting us: having you in our e-network will help us a great deal in showing that the public is interested in this issue.
And that creates immense pressure on legislators and others with political influence to act.
One quick easy step that you can take now to help us is to fill out our Contact form.
(We only use your email address for our own work. And relax: we do not solicit donations from individuals such as you who are not wealthy.)
Another thing you can do is to encourage the AARP and your retirement community or local senior center, or a nonprofit where you volunteer or donate, to support Healthy Students Healthy State.
Just forward this webpage to your contact at that organization—and to your friends including fellow grandparents & seniors in Arizona—and ask them to fill out our Contact form, to be part of our network.
Thank you very much for taking the time to review our work. Working together, we can make a better world for our families, and for future generations.