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Gimme Five: William Scott


Marketing professor William Scott created the Samantha Skunk program to help teach kids about the dangers of smoking. Now he’s helping kids lead healthier lives through Rollie Robin, a fun way to teach youngsters about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?

I made a statement in my marketing class that we can make people do anything we want to make them do. Two students challenged me to stop kids from starting to smoke. I developed an anti-smoking program called Samantha Skunk.  When obesity took over as a health problem, I used the same techniques for the obesity program that I had used in the anti-smoking program — motivate with fun, recognition, a sense of accomplishment and involvement.

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?

I developed a way to get kids attention and motivate kids to eat better and be more physically active. Rollie Robin competes with Burger King and Ronald McDonald by providing individual and group recognition, a sense of accomplishment and fun when the kids make healthy choices.  Rollie is a robin who cannot fly because he eats the wrong food and is not physically active. The kids show Rollie how to help himself to, “Healthy eating, lots of play — make healthy choices every day.” This slogan is repeated many times during the presentation.

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

Convincing the University of New Hampshire theater students to produce a play of the Rollie Robin story (see the Dec. 20, 2012 edition of the Inside Track for more details). UNH students are set to debut the play in the summer of 2013 throughout New England.

Who is your role model in your work?

The former surgeon general, C. Everett Koop. He was the first effective surgeon general to take on corporate interests around health issues and win.

What game or sport did you play growing up? What healthy snacks did you eat?

I played football and basketball.  As a child, healthy snacks were not a social consideration.

Want to take part in Gimme Five? Contact’s Zach Brooks.