Danyel Johnson, 11, a Native American from the Navajo Reservation of the Sanostee and Tohatchi area, along with 20 other outstanding young people, has been selected to serve on the 2012-2013 Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation. Danyel is entering her second year of service on the Board.
I feel passionate about living healthy because three years ago I had a very traumatic experience with my health. I am usually healthy and very physically active but one day I ended up in the ER. I had a ruptured appendix and was taken into surgery right away. The surgeons said people can die from having a ruptured appendix. This was a frightening thing to hear as a young person and was a wakeup to be more aware about my health.
After this traumatic experience I started to realize how much people take their health for granted, especially young people. I began to understand that being healthy and staying healthy has to start at a young age in order to live a long productive life.
With that in mind, I applied for the Alliance’s Youth Advisory Board. I really wanted to be a part of a group of youth that had a voice to help combat the nationwide childhood obesity epidemic. I’m entering my second year of service on the Board. My mission is to tell young people to be more conscious of their health. I want these young people to be more active, eat more fruits and vegetables, drinks more water, and basically learn more healthy habits.
My inner voice is telling me these young people need me. I can be a catalyst to help educate youth on the Navajo Reservation about childhood obesity. Because there are not many programs for youth on the Navajo reservation I plan to collaborate more with Indian Health Services, my new school district, and the community of the northern Navajo Nation to help promote healthy living and advocate against childhood obesity. I would like people to understand how obesity affects all people.
My passion to help my young people will never end. I also know for a fact that young people LISTEN to young people. I know many young people, are looking up to me especially all my younger sisters. I believe I can guide them to make healthy choices. I know when I model healthy behaviors, they will too. I will continue to inspire through my Navajo dances and my Navajo stories. I want young people to be more aware of healthy habits. The Youth Advisory Board members and I are dedicated, smart, and devoted individuals, helping reach out to and inspire young people’s lives.