Making "healthy" the norm
Active Life: Changing the culture of health and fitness, one community at a time
Husky jeans. Mothers will tell you they are for boys who are "well-built" and "strong." Fifth grade boys see the label a bit differently, or at least Baker Harrell did when he was in fifth grade.
"I was essentially being labeled the fat kid on the back of my pants," Harrell says.
Harrell recalls being picked on as an overwieght kid growing up in Canton, Mississippi. His turning point came in a dressing room at a Dillards Department Store when he was forced to try on a pair of those husky jeans.
"My mother came into the dressing room and found me crying. She saw how much I suffered," Harrell recalls. "I told her that I couldn't live that way and that we couldn't live that way."
Together they vowed to live healthier more active lives. Harrell, 12-years old at the time, started reading articles about fitness while his mom researched healthy recipes. Both were eager to share their new found knowledge.
"My mom started sharing her healthy recipes with our friends, neighbors and family members and I started helping adults in my neighborhood create excercise programs."
As a result of their efforts, Harrell never had to sport a pair of husky jeans again which actually proved to be more of a bonus than the true reward.
"It wasn't so much the obesity piece that stuck with me as I aged. It was more abut the lifestyle, the confidence and self esteem I gained by becoming healthy. I tapped into this power that I didn't know I had and saw the power a motivated individual could have over others."
Harrell taps into that power every day in his efforts to change the culture of health and fitness in this country through ACTIVE Life, a non-profit he created in August of 2009.
He uses his education in social movements, new media, and health marketing to help achieve ACTIVE Life's mission of making "healthy the norm" in a culture that makes it easy to be unhealthy.
ACTIVE Life is going from community to community changing habits and lives through health, fitness, and training programs at schools, workplaces and neighborhoods throughout the country.
"What we are trying to do is different than what traditionally has been done in the health world up to this point. Most people have a specific program targeted at individuals to lose weight. We are much more focused on community and our overall goal is to create greater demand for all things health," says John Waterman, manager of marketing and communications for ACTIVE Life.
To date 1.46 million people in 43 states are creating healthy change in their communities thanks to ACTIVE Life. The number continues to grow with programs like Demand Healthy Week which challenges people across the country to create, share, and log their moments of health on social media channels.
"I'm very proud of ACTIVE Life and what we've done," Harrell said and he's not stopping there. The team is currently working on a new intiative called It's Time Texas.
"We'll have a soft launch in February with a new website giving people instant access to resources that will help them spread the cause," Waterman said.
It's Time Texas further supports Harrell's efforts to make the world healthier community by community, just like he did as a fifth grader spreading healthy habits one neighbor at a time.
ACTIVE Life is a member of I Live Here, I Give Here. You can donate to ACTIVE Life directly from our site using the new donation tool below.