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For first-generation college student Karina Bello, a semester-long internship teaching middle schoolers how to be fit and healthy has turned into a lifelong passion.
“I see myself working in schools to help combat childhood obesity by focusing on prevention rather than just intervention,” says Bello, a senior community health major who has interned with the FitPHX Energy Zones collaborative, an obesity solutions initiative from ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
“Obesity is one of the greatest health challenges we face, infiltrating almost every aspect of our lives. Yet our thinking around obesity remains myopic, as we continue to blame people for their condition. We need to step back and look at the challenges with fresh eyes. Many of the best solutions suggested by current science require us to work together, to rethink the design of our cities, our neighborhoods, our schools, clinics, and campuses, and to recognize how we together can create healthier, happier everyday lives.”
Alexandra Brewis Slade
PhD, co-director for ASU’s Obesity Solutions initiative
FitPHX, awarded the President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness for helping meet the needs of the local community, is a free library-based after-school fitness and nutrition education program serving vulnerable youths ages ten to fourteen. It is operated in partnership with City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation, Phoenix Public Libraries, the Phoenix Mayor’s Office, Mayo Clinic, Maricopa County Department of Public Health, and several ASU schools and colleges.
As a FitPHX intern, Bello learned early on that getting kids’ attention doesn’t come easily.
“Some of the kids had this sort of ‘too cool for school’ attitude, but we knew the information was sinking in when kids were getting less junk food from the vending machines and drinking more water,” Bello says. “We were changing their conscious decision making.”
Bello, a beneficiary of several ASU scholarships, knows a thing or two about the impact of conscious decisions. As a recipient of the Early Outreach Scholarship, designed to help ASU students serve as role models to children and adolescents in grades K–12, her involvement with FitPHX and its impact on her career aspirations illustrate social embeddedness coming full circle.