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Surgeon General Honors “Fit for Our Future” Students


Surgeon General Regina Benjamin often tells a story about the man and the starfish.

As Benjamin’s story goes, a young woman was jogging on the beach one morning when she saw a man tossing starfish into the sea. Hundreds of starfish had washed upon the shore, and all would soon die when the sun became too warm.

The woman asked the man why he would even bother tossing the starfish back into the ocean, considering there were too many starfish to make a difference. His reply: “Because it makes a difference to THIS starfish.”

Benjamin’s story is often her way to urge people to work to improve health in their own communities, even if that healthy change happens one person at a time. Last Thursday, she shared the story during the Fit for Our Future Gala and Video Competition, sponsored by the Campaign to End Obesity and the Discovery Channel and held at Discovery headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.

The event honored students from three Washington, D.C. high schools who produced videos designed to promote healthy eating and physical activity habits, with the grand prize award going to six students from Ballou Senior High School. It also served as a fundraiser for the Campaign to End Obesity, which brings together leaders from industry, academia and public health to encourage policy changes to combat obesity.

The high school students, who also represented Eastern and McKinley high schools, had created short videos to urge their fellow students to lead healthy lifestyles. In her speech at the event, Benjamin noted that it’s important young people take part in such educational efforts to help get the message out.

“I can’t reach kids, you can reach kids… you know their voice,” Benjamin said. “I really need your help. I need your help in talking to your classmates, your parents, on this topic and many other topics.”

The students weren’t the only people recognized at Thursday’s event. Ed Foster Simeon of the United States Soccer Foundation and Dawn Sweeney from the National Restaurant Association also were recognized for “leaders who are willing to back up their words with actions” for their efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles.