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Fighting for healthier lifestyles in our communities
Studies from the International Obesity Task Force have shown an estimated 155 million school-age children and adolescents world-wide show symptoms of obesity and being overweight; of which 18.8-percent of children ages 6 to 11 in the U.S. are obese. According to recent studies, the costs of obesity to health systems and individuals are increasing by alarming rates. Since 2001, costs have increased from $125 million to $237 million.
Pfohl previously served as senior vice president of partnerships for HOPSports Inc., where she worked to form partnerships with state, national and international organizations and corporations seeking health and physical education resources for schools and community organizations.
Other accomplishments include, co-founder and executive director of Be Active North Carolina, a non-profit organization working statewide to increase physical activity among North Carolina citizens; Be Active Kids, a preschool physical activity and nutrition program in North Carolina; and recognition in 2007 for the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Community Leadership Award.
Shellie Pfohl, '85 UNI aluma, has spent her career advocating for better community health education and promotion programs, especially for youth. A lifelong athlete, Pfohl found her passion for health promotion in UNI's Community Health Education program where she learned to help individuals and their communities live healthier lifestyles.
Her 25-year career has included various positions in leadership, advocacy and policy work with such organizations as HOPSports Inc., Be Active North Carolina, Be Active America, North Carolina's Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Whether it was facilitating training in physical activity programs for more than 40,000 teachers, implementing a pre-school physical activity and nutrition program for more than 7,000 childcare centers across North Carolina, or forging partnerships with state, national and international organizations and corporations, Pfohl has made significant contributions in the fight against obesity and promoting community revolution toward healthier lifestyles.
Her most recent career move came approximately three months ago when she was appointed by President Obama as executive director of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCFPS). Her responsibilities include managing the operations of the President's Council, overseeing an advisory committee to the president and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and leading the council's efforts for First Lady Michelle Obama's national Let's Move! Campaign to address the childhood obesity epidemic.
"My new responsibilities give us an awesome opportunity at the Council to be a catalyst for change and to create healthy lifestyles for children and families, and transform our communities to be more healthy as well," said Pfohl.
Some immediate priorities include modernizing the Presidential Youth Fitness Test to introduce innovative activities. A second priority is the promotion of the Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards for individuals 6- to 106-years of age.
"It's never too late to start an exercise program and these awards allow families, businesses and communities to come together and engage in activities that support healthier lifestyles."
Pfohl will attend UNI's first-ever in the U.S. Global Forum for Physical Education Pedagogy, May 13-14 in Grundy Center, Iowa. National and international leaders in health and physical education will come together to discuss the fight against childhood obesity and the need for education reform in physical education and health.
At the forum Pfohl looks forward to the end goal -- a consensus statement outlining how to move forward with a global education reform agenda in physical education.
Pfohl explains that education reform is more than a K-12 responsibility. "Yes, schools need to have daily quality physical education. However, it's not the responsibility of just the schools to fight childhood obesity and promote healthier lifestyles -- communities, business and industry, transportation, urban planners and many others play a role. If we're building schools without gyms, neighborhoods without sidewalks and roads without bike lanes, we're not helping to move the cause forward."
Her passion for health is evident. Pfohl said, "I believe leadership is key and I mean leadership at all societal levels. We can no longer afford to support unhealthy lifestyles. If we don't turn the tide on the obesity epidemic our country will be bankrupt. The time for change is now. Never before have we had such a national focus on this issue, and never before have so many individuals and organizations come together to create healthy options for our citizens."