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Gimme Five: Bisi Ideraabdullah


Bisi Ideraabdullah is the Executive Director of Imani House where she works with young people in both New York and West Africa to build education, skills and community. The Imani House’s upcoming Walk to Live event aims to highlight healthy choices and lifestyles for children in New York.

Name: Bisi Ideraabdullah
Title: Executive Director
Organization: IMANI HOUSE, Inc. (IHI)

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?

As an early childhood educator with programs in the public school for 140 children, my concern for overweight children - from a self-esteem point of view as well as health issue possibilities - drew my attention. As an overweight youngster, I suffered from bullying, as well as self-doubt and low self-esteem. I worked overtime to make sure that my own five children never became obese. Now with all of the news about obesity’s links to serious health risk I wanted to take a stand. I am very aware that poor eating habits are also tied to overweight, especially for today’s children who have easy access to fast food, something that was not easily accessibly when I was a child.

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?

Imani House started “Walk to Live” three years ago after a careful study of various elements of this issue. We decided that we could bring together parents and children in a way that would be beneficial, not only in parent/child bonding, but also in the simple physical action of walking – a cost free activity with huge benefits to the body overall. Walk to Live also includes healthy living tips, with this year’s theme being Fruit for Life. We believe that awareness is key to addressing and overcoming this problem.

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

The biggest triumph thus far is the Walk to Live event – a big undertaking for a small group. But we have trademarked the name, and will sponsor the second event here in Brooklyn on Sunday, June 22. Also, we are proud that parents in our school program have begun to take the issue seriously, and the parent committee in charge of raising funds rejected candy sales this year.

Who is your role model in your work?

Although we had never heard of “Let’s Move” when we began our study of this issue, we are very proud to have First Lady Michelle Obama fighting this problem on a national scale and we have reached out to her for endorsement of our efforts.

What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?

When I grew up in the 50’s we played outside all day, had an active school recess, and played in the snow without parents monitoring us. It was “go out and play” and we were safe back then. My major healthy snack was probably peanuts. But healthy snacks were not the focus of eating. The food my mother prepared was always well balanced. I would say we ate less fruit than we could have, but green veggies, home cooked meats and starches were always there. We did not eat raw vegetables. It was not a part of our culture.

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.