Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend a forum sponsored by the Clinton Foundation, RWJF and GHI. It was an awesome event that included a lively discussion on what is needed to curb the rise in childhood obesity rates. I had the opportunity to meet some remarkable people who are doing very exciting things to ensure that the future of the world is brighter and healthier.
Amongst the many people in attendance I had the pleasure of meeting the Today Show’s Joy Bauer, who complimented me on my smile. Thanks for that, Joy! Sadly, I didn’t think to snap a celfie’ (yes, that is selfie) with her. Visit her site for nutrition tips and great recipes: www.joybauer.com
I met actor and entrepreneur Wendell Pierce of The Wire and Treme fame (my wife would throw in Waiting to Exhale as well). You should definitely support Sterling Farms if you are in the New Orleans area; they are placing healthy options in the heart of the food deserts in the 9th Ward. Visit their site for more info: sterlingfreshfoods.com
I also had the privilege to eat lunch with former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Heart Association, Dr. Eduardo Sanchez. If you ever catch them together ask them about two things: 1) Hurricane Katrina and 2) What is the significance of Ice Cream? Believe me you won’t regret it.
Here are some organizations that caught my attention and I think deserve your support:
Go Noodle is an organization that provide an online program that allow kids classroom breaks to do short exercises as a “reset” from their day to day lessons. I had an awesome conversation with the founder Scott about ways to inspire and encourage children to fulfill healthy goals. Visit their site: GoNoodle.com
Girl Trek is a non-profit organization that uses walking as a way to encourages physical activity amongst African American women. One of the co-founders, Morgan, was a panelist who was very inspiring with her wealth of knowledge and experience. Visit their site: GirlTrek.org
Finally, Snider Hockey is a non-profit by the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. I was fortunate to meet Jan who spoke passionately about the program and how they introduce urban youth in Philadelphia to hockey. Visit their site: esyhf.org
Overall, it was an awesome even and I encourage you to check out the videos below and joint the conversation. Hop on twitter and keep the hashtag #KidsHealthMatters alive.
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.
My family moved back home to Maryland from Tennessee and it’s been exhausting. Moving from state to state can be a trying time, especially with a one year old in tow. I can say though that the USPS made that transition just a little bit easier.
Plus, it’s awesome to open the mailbox at your new home and see a letter from the White House.
Since I began presenting Chunky and Friends to the public I often get the same advice, “You should contact Michelle Obama.” While it is a great suggestion from people who can understand the potential impact of Chunky and Friends, I’m humbled by the thought that the First Lady would have any time to even glance over our book series.
By now, everyone is familiar with the amazing work the First Lady does with the “Let’s Move” campaign and she’s a very busy woman so, it’s not unreasonable to believe this to be a ridiculous suggestion, right? Well, I mailed a personal letter and signed book copy to her at the White House and surprisingly after 6 weeks I received a response! See below:
It’s a very exciting time for us and we’re grateful that the First Lady Michelle Obama and her staff took time to check out the book. On behalf of the Chunky and Friends team we are very grateful for your time and the supportive letter. My Mother-in-Law said it best, “What a wonderful housewarming gift.” I agree wholeheartedly.
Have you seen a Chunky and Friends ad in your local publications?
Look for it in the WellFed Magazine in Savannah, GA. WellFed is a free magazine dedicated to making sure citizens and visitors know the healthiest places to eat. This is an awesome publication to make the best decision when heading out to eat. They cover food “from the garden to the plate” so take a look below or if you’re in Savannah pick up a copy, IT’S FREE. (issuu.com/wellfedsavannah
Finally, if you’re in Montgomery County, MD you probably receive the GAZETTE. Look for our ad in the link below.
Take it easy everyone!
CLICK IMAGE TO EXPAND!
This is our first in a line of comic strips that we are calling, “Short Chunks!” It’s another glimpse into Chunky’s world and his fight to overcome his health issues with the help of friends and family. A little harsh on our fearless hero? Yes, but, not as harsh as what will happen if kids think soda companies and their products can fix their health issues. A lot of kids who are working to live healthier lives might be confused when they see a popular soda company agree to join the fight against obesity. So we asked, what happens to Chunky when he finds out this soda company is out to help him? Enjoy and please comment below! LIKE us on Facebook! Follow Us on Twitter!
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.
For Immediate Release
New Comic Book Series, Chunky and Friends, Tackles Childhood Obesity, Self-Esteem, Peer Pressure and More!
Memphis, TN – January 28, 2013
Encompassing the perfect mix of humor and education, and a fun, relatable cast of characters, the new children’s series, Chunky and Friends, seeks to bring awareness to some of the most daunting and pressing social issues facing kids today.
The debut book in the series, “CHUNKY AND THE O-BEAST”, tackles the dangers of childhood obesity and stresses the importance of eating well and engaging in physical activity.
Synopsis: Chunky is a 10-year-old boy who finds out that he is in danger of becoming obese. With his vivid imagination, he confuses what was discussed during his doctor’s visit and believes he will soon transform into an “O-BEAST.” Can Chunky make sense of it all and stop the O-Beast from taking over?
The author, Joseph Vivens, got the idea for the first book after hearing concerns from his wife, a pediatrician, over the disturbing number of overweight children and families she was encountering. “She would talk about these children who were coming in with very serious health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes – a direct result of being overweight,” says Vivens. “A light bulb went off. If we could bring attention to serious problems, like obesity, in a way that a child could understand and relate to, we could affect real change.”
Vivens enlisted the help of an old friend, José Dominguez, an illustrator whose own personal struggle with weight gave him the understanding and insight needed to bring the characters to life. “I think there’s a character in Chunky and Friends to whom everyone can relate,” says Dominguez. “Furthermore, in going with a comic book style, the stories transcend all ages, making them enjoyable for children and parents.”
“CHUNKY AND THE O-BEAST” is currently available in paperback on amazon.com ($11.99) and digitally on the Kindle ($4.99). Information on the Chunky and Friends series, including its blog and links to social media pages, can be found at www.chunkyandfriends.com.
We are proud to announce that the first Chunky and Friends book, CHUNKY AND THE O-BEAST, is available now in Paperback!
Click the above image for more information.
Chunky is a 10-year-old boy who finds out that he is in danger of becoming obese. With his vivid imagination he confuses what was discussed during his doctor visit and believes he will soon transform into an “O-BEAST.” Can Chunky make sense of it all and stop the O-Beast from taking over?
Here is a sample for my friends!
(Click here for a larger images from the book)
Eat sweets once a week – Chunky says… Eat sweets Once A Week. Once Chunky learned he was in danger of becoming obese he decided to change a lot of his eating habits, one of which includes how often he has sweets. It was really hard for him to do so, he and his mother set up a calendar for the day that he would have his “junk food” snack. His “sweet” day is Friday. What’s yours?