Transforming young lives

Transforming young lives

Great leaders understand that the health of the spirit is as important as the health of the body. Recently, I was in the presence of greatness. On Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, I joined more than 500 local men and boys in Wilmington for the “Raising Kings”— a conference sponsored by the non-profit One Village Alliance — to encourage positive male engagement in the lives of boys and men of color.

One theme underscores these inspiring initiatives: Feeling valued and valuable are important components of well-being with the potential to transform the futures of young people. This is closely connected with our health and with health care. As the American Public Health Association affirms, “Educational success starts with healthy kids, and kids who complete high school are more likely to have a lifetime of better health and economic opportunities.”

To keep the youngest members of our society healthy, Christiana Care Health System supports the present and future health of our community’s children through partnerships with school districts, the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware Division of Public Health, and our involvement in multiple community-outreach programs for children and their families, such as 100 Men Reading Day, started by local middle schooler Imani Henry.

In Delaware and beyond, wellness programs that empower young people with health information — on nutrition, exercise and smart lifestyle choices — pay it forward into their families and communities.

Individuals can support healthy kids by being a role model or mentor to a young person in their community. I am forever grateful to the mentors who led me on my path. Choose to be a mentor, and start by showing a young person that he or she is valued and valuable.

This was originally published as a letter to the editor in The News Journal, March 2, 2014.