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Gimme Five: Shavon Arline-Bradley


Each week, our own Zach Brooks speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Zach’s profile and contact him.

Shavon Arline-Bradley is the national director of health programs at the NAACP, where she works to create healthy environments and make it easy for communities of color to move more and eat healthier. Shavon recently emailed to ask Leaders and Supporters to raise their voices for healthier snacks in schools. You can ask the USDA to support healthy school snacks here.

Name: Shavon L. Arline-Bradley
Title:  National Director of Health Programs
Organization:  NAACP

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?

I was inspired when I was in college working with local communities in New Orleans.  I worked very closely with families as a senior and then MPH student.  That started my journey toward childhood obesity advocacy. The NAACP became nationally involved in 2008 upon the death of an adolescent African American boy due to complications associated with being obese.  The rest is history.

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?

As the national director of NAACP health programs, I am helping to reverse childhood obesity through advocacy and priority strategies in areas including the built environment (i.e. joint use agreements), food environment and school policies (i.e. competitive foods in schools). My work also affords me the privilege, and yet difficult assignment, of shedding light on the inequitable systems in this country that plague communities of color and those communities that are economically challenged, yielding astronomical childhood obesity rates. I am helping to make people aware of a system that they have come to be familiar with. I hope to reverse the epidemic along with the systems and mindsets that contribute to it.  

What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?

My biggest accomplishment so far has been the unveiling of the NAACP childhood obesity advocacy manual in September 2011. Having Surgeon General Regina Benjamin join us that day with school children from Washington, D.C., was the icing on the cake (no pun intended). I hope that if asked this question in the next couple of years, that it would be identifiable advocacy wins in communities where the NAACP has a strong, mobilizing presence.  

Editor’s Note: The Inside Track covered the NAACP’s advocacy manual unveiling, and at the time we noted that the Surgeon General can tear it up on the dance floor.

Who is your role model in your work?

Doctors Regina Benjamin, Shiriki Kumanyika and Toni Yancey — and yes, First Lady Michelle Obama.

What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?

My healthy snacks were air-popped popcorn and fresh fruit [such as] cherries, strawberries and pineapple. I ran track and played basketball growing up, which led to a full track and field scholarship to Tulane University.  

Click here to connect with Shavon Arline-Bradley.