As a co-founder and the current Creative Director of the Rancho La Puerta fitness resort and Golden Door spas, Deborah Szekely has long been known as a pioneer in health and wellness. My remarkable friend Szekely is now focusing on a new target audience: our nation’s children. She is adding her extraordinary mind, energy, and voice to the chorus of those concerned about America’s child obesity problem. Together with Dr. David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner and now Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, she is promoting a pilot program they hope will help educate schoolchildren on the importance of healthy lifestyles.
It’s called the Living Skills Fifth Grade Semester. Szekely explains it is targeted to fifth graders because they believe children at that age still adore their teachers, parents, and friends and are old enough to understand lessons on healthy choices and to take on tasks like food preparation, gardening, shopping and budgeting. This makes them good candidates to be enthusiastic about learning how healthy food and exercise will make their bodies work best and makes them likely to be excited to share what they are learning at school with their families at home. As Szekely says, “We believe these children will become proselytizers to their family, much as past generations did when confronting their parents about smoking.”