NB Youth Strategy Summit

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

I was recently honored to have the opportunity to speak at the first-ever New Brunswick Youth Strategy Summit. This summit, which is taking place in Fredericton this weekend, is a place for youth aged twelve to thirty to voice their opinion on government policies that affect them.

Topics of discussion at the Summit include education, employment and careers, health and wellness, sports and culture, engagement, and rights and responsibilities. The reasons for my interest in health and wellness and its importance is what I was asked to speak about in brief speech following the NB youth discussions about health and wellness in NB. My speech follows a presentation by the New Brunswick Health Council, urging young participants at the Summit to learn more about New Brunswick’s health care system and to consider the state of their own health.

Of course, those of you who are familiar with my column know that health and wellness is a topic that I usually have much to say about.

Personally, my interest in health sciences emerged during middle school, while I was living in a region where diabetes and obesity were major health issues that were causing people to die younger than they were elsewhere. As a young preteen, I was exposed to much discussion about health problems in the media, through teachers at school, and through my parents at home and I learned to place value on leading a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent illness.

My efforts to practice healthy habits myself led to my learning to cook healthily and later to writing The Healthaliciously Good Cookbook. My experiences with the cookbook opened my eyes to how much health education was important and how much more could be done in this area.

After the publication of my cookbook, I began considering health as a domain of study and work and as an issue that I particularly identified with. Currently, I am very happy to be studying health sciences at university and to be involved with youth health organizations in the community.

Being a teenager, my involvement in this area is somewhat unusual and this is precisely why I was asked to talk about my experiences and my thoughts about health at the Summit; in order to show that health and wellness is an area that youth can become involved in.

Here are a few points that I wanted to highlight in my speech and that I would like to highlight for readers as well:

-Health and wellness is important for youth and managing sedentary lifestyle-caused diseases and the rising cost of the health care system will be an important issue in the future.

-Health and wellness is not a boring topic. Health and wellness cannot be approached intuitively, with popular knowledge as the only validation; it deserves to be approached objectively like other major issues.

-Health and wellness in all its forms needs to be discussed by youth more often; suicide and drugs aren’t the only health issues for teenagers.

-Youth need to identify themselves as community members that must take initiative for their own health and, when applicable, as future health care workers.

Originally published in the Times & Transcript on February 19th, 2011.

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