From the President’s Desk: ’24 Spring Update

“Our partnership with HealthMPowers is igniting a movement for our state. It’s been transformative for our students and our staff,” remarked Yolanda Reid-Wheeler, Intervention Specialist with Henry County Public Schools. This sentiment was shared on March 16th, when HealthMPowers was the featured community partner at the Henry County Youth Leader Ambassador Summit. The 600+ attendees were students, parents, youth leaders, and educators focused on leadership skills, eating healthy foods, getting adequate physical activity, and helping young people connect a healthy mind with a healthy body.

At the summit, I awarded mini-grants to teams of students who developed innovative projects that would lead to healthy changes in their school environment. As I took the stage, I first noticed how many students were wearing HealthMPowers t-shirts in the audience. But more than t-shirts, these young people felt identity and connection to HealthMPowers; they belonged to the HealthMPowers community and wanted everyone to see it.

This is only made possible with your support. Because of your gifts, HealthMPowers is invested in almost 30 of the 50 public schools within Henry County, implementing nutrition education, physical activity promotion programming, and developing the next generation of health leaders across all grades. It is the definition of a true partnership between HealthMPowers and the Henry County school district leaders to assert a whole child health approach.

One of the unique things about HealthMPowers is how we approach our work; we don’t just drop in now and again. We lean in. We invest. We build alongside young people, educators, and partners. We collaborate and empower leaders of all ages to own and belong to a healthier present and future.

Our work is not transactional; it is transformational.

Henry County is but one example of where we are leaning in. In Murray County, students are reducing cafeteria food waste by repurposing unused meals for student food pantries, generating over 40,000 meals since August. Across the state, the Girls Empowering Movement (GEM) pilot program continues to produce phenomenal results, not just for inspiring girls to connect their physical and mental wellness but also for providing opportunities to lead and develop skills for budgeting and project planning.

Almost 25 years ago, HealthMPowers was established in response to a childhood obesity epidemic crisis in Georgia. But we’ve learned so much since then, and it’s not just about childhood obesity anymore. The stakes are higher, so HealthMPowers is thinking bigger because our young people need and deserve that. We are digging deeper by leaning into lived experience and listening to the youth’s voice. We are laying a foundation for nutrition access and security. We provide youth leadership development and training to the next generation of public health advocates.

Together, we will ensure that all Georgia’s children are nourished and active. And ready to take on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

In health,
Jennifer L. Owens
President and CEO, HealthMPowers