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What do a hospital-sponsored 5K run/walk, a school-sponsored community vegetable garden, and a church-sponsored summer feeding program have in common? They are all ways in which Seventh-day Adventist® institutions and members are working together to promote a healthy lifestyle and fight childhood obesity.
Today, doctors are seeing diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and heart disease – which once affected only older adults – striking children as young as six. The cause? Childhood obesity, which in 2008 reached an all-time high of 17% among children ages 2 through 19, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the concern is that this may be the first generation in history that grows up less healthy than their parents. The potential impact on our nation’s economic health and security is significant.
But the good news is that there is a lot that we can do to prevent these diseases. “This is our Time! As a church we have long talked about the importance of not just healthy minds and hearts but also healthy bodies. Our culture is coming to grips with its health crises and we have a message for the times,” reports Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church joined some 50 other faith and community organizations in support of a national initiative of United States First Lady Michelle Obama to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity. Adventists InStep for Life is a North American Division initiative sponsored by Adventist Community Services, Children’s Ministries, Education, Health Ministries, and Youth Department in order to mobilize every member and institution to get in step for life and make a significant impact on childhood obesity. “It is a wonderful means for advancing our emphasis on health among kids and their families,” affirms Jackson.
Katia Reinert, Health Ministries Director for the church in North America, said members will be encouraged to:
1. Increase physical activity by:
- Collectively accumulating 1 million miles through walking and other activities
- 60% of Adventist students achieving the NAD and President Active Lifestyle Awards
- Launching 100 summer feeding programs (VBS, camps, community service activities, etc.) so kids have access to healthy meals when school is out
- Starting 100 community vegetable gardens at schools and churches to invite people who don’t have their own space to grow food
“More than ever the time has come for God’s message of healing and restoration to be heard,” states Reinert. “Adventists InStep for Life is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive impact for Christ in our communities.”
Health ministry leaders across the division have worked together to develop ideas, resources, and a toolkit for implementing the initiative, which will be launched April 1. The North American Division has also set aside Sunday, September 25 as Let’s Move Day. Churches, schools, and healthcare institutions are encouraged to host 5K run/walks or other active events on that day to provide opportunities for physical activity and promoting a healthier lifestyle. “I see this as a program that all 1.1 million Adventists in the North American Division can take part in and encourage their community to embrace,” asserts Jackson.
“This initiative is consistent with our church's approach to ministering to people physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually," states Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church will do its part to fulfill God's wish found in 3 John 2 which indicates that God wants us to be in physical and spiritual health.”
Do you want a healthy future for yourself and your children? Would you like to make a difference in your community? Adventists InStep for Life is an opportunity to promote a message of healthful living and make a positive impact for Christ.
For more information and an initiative tool kit, visit www.nadhealthministries.org.