Danielle Henry, Megan Duong, Annalisa Ursino and Tin Vo show off their gold medals at the FCCLA national competition in Nashville Thursday.

West Seattle HS students win gold at national competition

Group promotes whole grain wheat bread to help stop child obesity

By Simone Alicea

A group of students from West Seattle High School are took their project about child obesity and whole grain bread to the national stage this week at the Students Taking Actions with Recognition events in Nashville, where they won a gold medal, the highest honor, in the advocacy category.

Tin Vo, Megan Duong, Renee McMinn and Annalisa Ursino are part of West Seattle High School’s Family Career and Community Leaders of America club, a leadership club with programs across the country.

Every year, the FCCLA holds regional and national competitions for students in a variety of categories from Fashion Construction to Leadership to Advocacy. West Seattle’s group is competing at nationals in Nashville in the Advocacy category with the goal of educating others about the benefits of whole grain wheat bread and the problems with child obesity.

“We learned that starting to eat whole grain wheat bread early can really be a gateway into other healthy habits,” Duong said.

In order to put together the presentation they gave at regionals and then nationals, the four students researched the issue thoroughly, including conducting a survey of their peers and talking to local restaurants about the kind of bread they use.

The group wanted to tackle child obesity because of its recent prevalence in the media, but thought it was too broad a topic handle by itself.

“Megan and I did a project about obesity in middle school,” Ursino said. “All of us thought it would be a really good idea since Michelle Obama is doing her Let’s Move (http://www.letsmove.gov/) campaign.”

The students’ adviser, Danielle Henry, teaches in the division of family and consumer science at West Seattle High School. She was the one who suggested looking into the use of whole grain wheat bread versus wheat bread or white bread.

“Wheat bread is just white bread dyed brown,” Henry said. “I was so impressed by how they took a hold of this and spread the message to their communities and their school.”

After nationals, the students plan on continuing their project by gaining more support from the community and talking to restaurants with the ultimate goal of bringing change to a restaurant’s menu.

“Locally, in Seattle, the default for bread on the kids’ menu is white bread,” Ursino said. “So they’re not giving kids or anyone a choice.”

The group has already gained the support of the Whole Grains Council (http://wholegrainscouncil.org/), who offered the students buttons to pass out at school to promote awareness for their cause.

“I personally like it because we get to educate people on new things they don’t know,” Vo said. “And I believe these are things people should know whenever they’re making choices.”

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