I was fortunate enough to meet Kat Calvin of Blerdology.co at a conference last September and she offered me the opportunity to do a guest post on her blog. This post was focused less on health and more on my love of comic books and using the medium to reach children. With Chunky and Friends: Chunky and the O-Beast I knew there was an opportunity to help by giving bad health a face.
The post is titled, Chunky and Friends: A Healthy Hero for Kids . As an adult Chunky reflects on his childhood and what it took to overcome the bad guy in his life: obesity. I rarely pat myself on the back but, it is a good read. Check it out by clicking this link: http://blerdology.co/blerd-kids-healthy-kids/. – JV
1. Why did you call the book series, Chunky and Friends?
I wanted to create a character that would be a catalyst; Someone kids could look up to and feel inspired. My thought was that kids could be motivated by Chunky’s passion and resilience. As far as the name Chunky, I wanted something that would catch people’s attention and peak interest. Story wise we explain the origin of his name. While the main goal of our book series is to focus on healthy living, in the series we also highlight misconceptions about being overweight. Many children who we may perceive as being healthy by their physical appearance, grow up to be unhealthy because of the eating habits they developed as children. So by calling the book Chunky and Friends, we grab all audiences and welcome them into a world where looking good does not always mean you are living a healthy life. Kind of like the real world.
2. Is this specifically for kids in danger of becoming obese?
No, Chunky and Friends is for all kids. No matter where they’re from or how they may appear, whether they live in a food oasis or a food desert, we all face the possibility of being unhealthy. Chunky and Friends is a means to allow kids to start the conversation with their parents about eating healthier and being physically active.
3. Why did you create Chunky and Friends?
I use to be a big fan of Popeye the Sailor and can remember the influence the cartoon had on me as a kid and my love of spinach. Seeing the power that spinach gave Popeye prompted me to eat spinach and so many other vegetables and fruits. I was also inspired by my pediatrician wife. She shared with me her experiences with parents of overweight children, who found it difficult to discuss the necessary changes for the entire family to live a healthier life. Collectively, these experiences, motivated me to create a book series that could assist in jump starting the conversation about eating healthy, the importance of self-confidence and active play. From there, Chunky and Friends was born.
4. Why is it a comic book?
To be able to tell the story and have it relate to children, I knew I needed more than a typical children’s book. With a comic book, children as old as 10 and as young as 4 can easily be reached.
5. Why don’t you touch on other subjects?
Thankfully, Chunky and the O-Beast is only the first of many books. We wanted Chunky’s introduction to the audience to be about one topic. Which is about him learning he needs to make dramatic changes to his life. Being able to tell that story while addressing every other concern in a 10 year olds life would be very difficult in one book. With the first book I wanted to convey a clear message but subsequent books will touch on other social issues. Rome wasn’t built in a day and Chunky and the O-Beast is our first brick.
6. Does your book focus on weight?
NoOoOooooOOOOO, it focuses on overall health. With a focus on health, I want to change the culture and conversation regarding health to be less about appearance and more about wellness. I have met many people who constantly wish they could lose weight. They make comments like ”If only I could lose 10 lbs” or “This diet promises me to lose 2 lbs per week.” I believe that if you focus on health, practicing portion control, minding what you put into your body and how much energy you put out you will feel better and reach a healthier weight in the process. But as far as Chunky and Friends goes, we do not want to focus on weight as kids may become obsessed with being too big and introduce a whole slew of other issues in the name of looking thin.
7. Did you try sending a book to Michelle Obama?
Yes, click here.
8. What is your background? What makes you think you should be the one to do this?
I’ve been told that this book series is very creative. My creativity stems from writing short stories, poetry and music and I draw inspiration from being silly. I have had a strong passion for starting my own business and it felt right to start a company with a project that could help millions. Although I am not a nutritionist, dietitian or physician, if my book can inspire a child to ask a question about their overall health or diet, so that they can ensure a long and healthy life, then I have done my job.
We had the pleasure of being in attendance at the 24th Frank M. Norflett Forum, “Addressing Our Pediatric Obesity Epidemic: Research to Health Policy.” The forum was held at the FedEx Institute of Technology on the University of Memphis campus in Memphis, TN. At the forum, we met various interested education and health practitioners/professionals who showed great interest in our book Chunky and Friends: CHUNKY AND THE O-BEAST. This wonderful group gave insight regarding further research and offered assistance with networking.
This is just the jump start of many conferences and we plan to remain involved in community events to continue to spread the word regarding the
Chunky and Friends book series and the importance of healthy living.
In addition to medical professionals there were other exhibitors in attendance.