2011 Scholarship Entry #19: Jalyce Heller

Obesity is a growing problem in Canada. According to Forbes magazine, sixty-one percent of Canadians are at an unhealthy weight. Obesity is a major factor in many health problems that lead to death, such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. With new technology arising and becoming cheaper, kids and parents alike have retreated to an apathetic and inactive lifestyle. Lack of knowledge about the risks associated with this lifestyle is another major cause of obesity. As an athlete I have always been very interested in learning about nutrition and exercise. I am also a member of Servus Credit Union, which gives back to our community in so many ways, including our soccer centre. Servus has inspired me to use my knowledge of health and nutrition to help others avoid obesity.

As assistant coach of the senior volleyball team at Chinook, I am in a great position to begin teaching younger people about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. This includes cutting out junk food and exercising daily. I plan to ensure that each level, from grade nine to senior, understands the importance of how they treat their bodies. I am hoping they will pass the message along to their parents. For an athlete good nutrition and specialized workouts allow for better performance. For others it will mean a longer life.

I am excited to educate young athletes about their health, however to make a real change in my community I must inform others of the health risks that come with obesity and how it can be controlled. Those who are not athletes may need more motivation to be active and keep healthy. I plan on getting a degree in kinesiology and become a personal trainer, specifically for those hoping to lose weight and lower their cholesterol and blood pressure. I love making specialized workout and nutrition plans that help people do just that.

Although education is a key factor in reducing obesity, motivation is key in getting people to get out and get healthy. For example, someone may know that eating unhealthy is bad for them, but until the doctor tells them that their cholesterol is through the roof, they don't have the drive they need to change their lifestyle. I plan on giving people that drive before it is too late. I would like to set up programs that teach people what will happen to them if they continue with a diet high in saturated fats and low in vegetables. I would like to show people what will happen to their bodies, inside and out, if their only exercise continues to be grocery shopping.

I am lucky to have learned about the effects of obesity at a young age. Statistics reveal that not everyone was so lucky. I want to be a part of lowering the number of obese people, and help people to live longer lives.