Healthy living starts from home. It is best infused in the mind of a person at a young age because it will help them live a healthy lifestyle when they grow up.
One Touch Ministry Director, Pastor Lenny Solomona, says this is where the role of parents and guardians come into play in their family.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, he said parents play a crucial role in ensuring children are brought up with the mentality that living healthy is key to longer and quality life.
Pastor Lenny and his team of volunteers at the Ministry, including Nobesity Samoa, are running a “Raising Awareness for Diabetes” campaign this Saturday, with one of its objectives is to promote a healthy lifestyle in Samoa.
He says as leaders in the most important institution — the family — parents need to set an example for their children.
“Most things fall on leadership,” he said.
“So what the leaders does, people follow and for parents, if we act that out and make that commitment to start making small changes, our kids will grow up with a positive attitude towards life, because we parents are the mentor, we are the ones who lead, and if we don’t care about the way we eat, it will affect the children.”
He says parents are confusing their children with the new products introduced in the commercial markets these days.
“And now instead of giving our child an apple, we’re giving them an apple lolly and parents are telling their kids it’s the same, it tastes the same when the lolly is gone.
“But what they’ve (manufacturers) really done is that they’ve taken the natural product, they’ve crushed it and added colouring, changed the texture, added sugar, so now you only get 0.5 percent of the apple inside the lolly, the children are not really eating the apple, they’re eating the sugar, parents are confusing them.”
Pastor Lenny explained his Ministry and Nobesity Samoa, despite being two separate organisations, strive to help young children in developing a mindset directed towards healthy living through their programmes.
“When we started One Touch Ministry we aimed at people who are 13 years of age and above, but for Nobesity, we wanted to have a programme that caters for the younger kids and we liken it with the words of the Bible that says train your child in the way of the Lord and when they get older they will never go astray from it.
“Because we target schools with our programmes, the great thing now is that the young kids go back home from school and tell their parents what they should eat.
“So we try to do a school every term because when we go to one school, it’s a whole day program, we do trainings and presentation and take the kids out to do some exercises and then we leave some tips with the teachers on what to teach the children.
“I think one of the success stories for us is Samoa Primary, it was the second school we visited in 2015, when we went there they had their canteen that sold fizzy drinks, even energy drinks, which is the worst drinks, and a lot of snacks and outside the gate people would also be selling highly processed foods.
“We just found out about a month ago the school’s changed what they sell in their canteen, so it’s a success story for us because we pioneered the program in their school.
“So we’re really hoping and praying that other schools will come together on board. And that’s one of our aims, to change the things that are being sold in canteens and we hope that one day Government will look at what we’re doing and disallow the sale of these unhealthy foods and drinks, the energy drinks are the worst, they’re very dangerous in the hands of the young kids.”
He explained: “When we teach nutrition, we teach them about the good and the bad, so by the time we finish, people will know what’s already inside a can of fizzy drink, and again it all comes back to leadership, whether the principals and their team are prepared to implement it in their school.”
Pastor Lenny says the Government also plays a critical role in promoting healthy living in schools.
“We would have to take a proposal to Government if we were to change the things sold in schools, so I guess for us we need to continue to raise awareness in schools, but get the message to the Cabinet Ministers and see whether they will endorse such initiatives.
“It’s important to start young but at the same time I think because older people are used to doing the wrong thing, they find it really hard to change so we’re using our young kids now in trying to send the message to their parents and families.”
The “Raising Awareness for Diabetes” campaign includes a one hour walk beginning at 7:40am from the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) to the Seafood Gourmet Bar & Grill and back, with a 20 minutes exercise and healthy refreshments to follow.
Free registration opens at 6:30am at S.T.A.