Digital Campaign Uses Power of Social Connections to Combat Obesity

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The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and AgencyNet strike back at the youth obesity epidemic, leveraging the power of digital communities to get kids moving and living healthier lives. The Alliance, backed by The William J. Clinton Foundation and The American Heart Association, enlisted AgencyNet to launch a platform where America’s youth are empowered and equipped to change the patterns of childhood obesity. EmpowerMe2b.org provides teens and tweens with the information they need to improve their health and more importantly, gives them a positive place to share their stories and influence each other to lead healthier, happier lives. The digital medium represents the perfect forum for the Kids Movement because it engages youth where they are already spending much of their time.

America’s obesity epidemic has hit our nation’s youth hard. While adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980, alarmingly, our children have fared even worse. Over the same period, obesity rates for our youth have nearly tripled. Obesity subjects children to a wide range of physical, social and emotional consequences ranging from hypertension and diabetes to depression and social stigma.

Recognizing the stakes, AgencyNet and President Bill Clinton’s Alliance for a Health Generation (AHG) first teamed up in 2007; launching igohugo.org, a website dedicated to activating kids and getting them moving.

Two years later, AgencyNet and AHG join forces again for this worthy cause. This time around, the kids are in charge. Founded in summer 2008, the Youth Advisory Board (YAB), consists of 21 youth representing a diverse mix of backgrounds. They are the de facto leaders of the movement; charged with providing feedback on Alliance Kids’ Movement programs and strategies, and generating new ideas on how to make healthy living the norm, not the exception. EmpowerMe2B.org serves as a soapbox for the YAB, allowing them into influence the Kids Movement nationwide. The site also serves as a recruitment tool, allowing Movement members the opportunity to join the board themselves.

But responsibility doesn’t rest entirely with the YAB. They are joined by the rest of the Kids Movement who can connect on the site to share personal stories and best practices, motivating others to follow their example.

“Kids reported feeling overwhelmed by the adult voice in their lives. By passing the baton and putting kids at the helm, the EmpowerMe movement leverages the fact that tweens are powerful influencers for their peers,” said Garett Bugda, Executive Creative Director for AgencyNet.

On the site, resources are provided to activate youth as the key instigators of change in their lives and communities. The ‘empowerME@school’ section provides students with a toolkit to bring positive changes to their school, while the ‘empowerME4life’ section provides resources to learn healthy habits that will last a lifetime. In the ‘myStory’ section, visitors can be inspired by the heartfelt success stories of other kids who have already made the pledge to live a healthier lifestyle and understand their reasons for doing so. In turn, they are encouraged to share their own story. Additionally, the site offers engaging tools, educational tips, real-time polls as well as edutainment-oriented games and videos.

The site was built on the open-source Drupal platform, providing both robust CMS services and customizable content modules. This allows site content to remain fresh and fully reflect all current and upcoming AHG and Kids Movement initiatives.

More than a million committed kids across the nation are joined by celebrities, athletes and the former President to ensure that tomorrow’s generation will live longer, healthier lives. All this and more make EmpowerMe2B.org a sustainable destination for those who believe that childhood obesity should be a thing of the past.