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.
Robert Brooke uses the power of media to help educate young people about the importance of living healthy. He worked with New York schools to develop the syndicated television show the Children’s Fitness Rescue Program, which has been praised by First Lady Michelle Obama. He’s also a star on the handball court.
Name: Robert Brooke
Title: Creator and Executive Director
Organization: The Children's Fitness Rescue Program
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
For years, I would get uptight when reading and listening to news reports about rising obesity rates. I originally wanted to do something about it by producing a film documentary on childhood obesity. While reviewing other obesity documentaries, I realized that not one obesity documentary ever made a measurable difference. It was then I decided to create a TV pilot based on the first multi-school fitness and weight loss contest. A TV show … would present a new way to educate and encourage students to lose weight, get fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
It took over a year for Dr. Carol Reiss of the New York Department of Education and myself to develop the first fitness and weight-loss contest, one that would work in sync with the public high school curriculum. We titled it the Children's Fitness Rescue Program. It includes 10 New York public high schools. In order to get our 10 high school principals to include their schools in our competition, we wrote a book that presents how liability issues were covered; the basis of what nutritional, cardiovascular and resistance training applications would be like; how the contest points will be credited; along with how the filming process is scheduled for our TV show.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
Receiving the support and collaboration of politicians such as the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, an army of personal trainers, nutritionists, lawyers, doctors, nonprofit organizations and 10 amazing New York public high school principals. Upon our show getting aired on syndicated television, the public will learn how effective our educational formula works. The Children's Fitness Rescue Program could then be applied in schools nationwide making for a healthier generation.
Who is your role model in your work?
First it was former President Bill Clinton because of his remarkable efforts toward fighting obesity. He’s so passionate about making a difference that his eyes fill with tears when describing how bad childhood obesity has become. I took his advice when he said how we must start in our school system to make the most impactful change toward obesity. Bill Clinton is the reason why our show is about schools competing in a fitness and weight loss contest.
My role model today is, of course, First Lady Michelle Obama. I received an email from her through her office commending me for my efforts toward the Children’s Fitness Rescue Program. It’s amazing how the First Lady made fighting obesity her main priority. She really cares.
What game or sport did you play growing up?
As a teenager I was addicted to playing handball and would play singles for two to three hours straight. Now today, I'm still very good at it. It’s a lot of fun.