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Gimme Five: Barry Ross


This week we had a chance to chat with Barry Ross, a Leader who wears multiple hats in the movement to prevent childhood obesity. As chairman of the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County as well as the vice president for healthy communities at St. Jude Medical Center, Barry oversees change implemented on a county and district level to make waves in California. To learn more about Barry, you can contact him through his profile.

Name:  Barry Ross
Title: Chairman
Organization: Alliance for a Healthy Orange County
Also:  Vice President, Healthy Communities, St. Jude Medical Center

What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
The Surgeon General’s statement that this generation of children may live shorter lifespans than their parents inspired me to work on this issue.

How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
The Alliance for a Healthy Orange County is promoting the Move More Eat Healthy Orange County campaign to encourage cities, school districts, faith based groups, community organizations, restaurants, businesses and residents to adopt policies that promote physical activity and improved nutrition. A major focus is to work with school districts to have active wellness committees that address wellness policies. We are also working to bring more funding to active transportation projects. In my day job as vice president for healthy communities at St. Jude Medical Center, we have implemented a partnership with the Orange County Department of Education’s Fit Kid Centers to ensure physical education happens in 10 elementary schools; worked with many pre-schools to implement policies around nutrition and physical activity; implemented a lunch time exercise program at Title 1 schools; provided produce bars at six schools; and supported stronger district wellness committees in four school districts.

What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
We served as a catalyst and the community collaborative to receive a CDC PICH grant of $3.9 million.

Who is your role model in your work?
Mahatma Gandhi.

What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
I liked eating raw onions and would be recruited to cut them up for salads.

Each week, our own Prarthana Gurung 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 Prarthana’s profile and contact her.