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Local Students Help Lawmakers with Policy to Fight Childhood Obesity

The Students Reinventing Michigan Contest awarded $22,000 in scholarships to students in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Rochester, Troy and Grand Rapids.

Students Reinventing Michigan contestants came up with policy recommendations to combat childhood obesity in Michigan. (Patch file photo)
Students Reinventing Michigan contestants came up with policy recommendations to combat childhood obesity in Michigan. (Patch file photo)

Several southeast Michigan students are among those who won $21,000 in scholarships in the third annual Students Reinventing Michigan challenge, which asked the students to develop legislative solutions to reduce Michigan’s childhood obesity.

Mentors involved in the project also received $1,100 in stipends, according to a news release.

Students developed comprehensive plans to ensure that every child in Michigan leads a healthy life. Plans included ideas such as regulating advertisements for unhealthy food, creating media campaigns to raise awareness of childhood obesity, school programs to educate children early on about healthy behaviors, increasing food stamp benefits, and plans to increase emphasis on physical education and activity both in and out of schools.  

Chairpersons of this year’s competition and of the House and Senate Health Policy Committees, Representative Gail Haines (R-Lake Angelus) and Sen. Jim Marleau (R-Lake Orion) announced this year’s winners, which were chosen by members of their committees.

The winners are:

  • First place: Stephanie Tanis of Grand Rapids, Grand Valley State University

  • Second place: Hannah Jenuwine of Troy, Michigan State University (mentor: Constance Hunt)

  • Third place: Nusrat Zaman and Maryam Hasam, both of Sterling Heights, and Philip Johnson of Rochester, students at Oakland University (mentor, Jennifer Lacarelli)

  • Fourth Place Zachary Rich and Dennis Black, both of Farmington Hills, students at Wayne Sgate University.

The students will present their winning proposals before a joint hearing of the House & Senate Health Policy Committees at 3:30 p.m. on April 30 at the Capitol in Lansing. Jim Shea, president of Students Reinventing Michigan, said “the quality of the proposals submitted by students this year “is incredibly impressive.”

The winning proposal urges rges Michigan lawmakers to enact laws that parallel the regulations of the tobacco industry and the restrictions placed on the marketing, packaging, and targeting consumption of tobacco products from youth in the sole interest of protecting public health.

Second Place winner, Hannah Jenuwine, of James Madison College at Michigan State University said thats a public policy student, she was able to write policy analyses and policy recommendations for different classes, but the contest gave her the chance to write policy that may make it into law.

“Working on this project allowed me to apply what I have learned in class, and gave me a platform to present policy ideas on how I would enact change in Michigan,” Jenuwine said. “Obesity and childhood obesity are serious issues for Michigan.  

“Childhood obesity has serious health and social consequences for those affected,” she said. “Still, there is not a strong sense of urgency to deal with childhood obesity. It is very important to instill healthy behaviors early and treat childhood obesity as a serious issue in order to work toward reducing its prevalence.”

The Students Reinventing Michigan competition offers an opportunity for students to learn outside of the classroom.  It provides contestants with skills that are necessary to be successful in the legislative process and develop skills before you graduate that one might not otherwise learn.  

“In Michigan we are blessed to have great colleges and universities preparing our next generation of leaders,” said Marleau. “This competition is one way of generating new and innovative ideas to help combat one of Michigan’s long term problems in reversing the trend in childhood obesity.”

Students Reinventing Michigan is organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”), as a corporation not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of civic and social welfare, including promoting the education and training of students to recognize contemporary problems and propose solutions that will benefit the common good and general welfare of the community, and conducting all activities incidental or necessary to accomplish the foregoing purposes or otherwise permitted by Section 501(c)(4) of the Code. For more details on the competition, visit www.studentsreinventingmichigan.com.  


Zach Rich April 29, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Dennis Black is from Detroit, not Farmington Hills

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