Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell is helping to lead a new push to improve the health of the youngest Oklahomans.
Pinnell announced the new Healthy Kid campaign Thursday during the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s virtual luncheon.
"For us to be a top 10 state — and please hear me on this — we can go out, we can create a bunch of jobs, we can fix roads and bridges, we can invest in our public education system. Of course, we need to be doing those things. But if we are not investing in a generation when it comes to healthy living and healthy lifestyles, then a lot of those things aren’t going to be effective," Pinnell said.
Pinnell said part of the plan is to break down walls keeping nonprofits and state agencies from easily working together. The campaign is still taking shape, but is largely aimed at improving Oklahoma’s eighth-highest in the U.S. childhood obesity rate and next-to-last ranking in health outcomes.
The Kids Count 2020 survey has the state ranked 49th in health, driven by many factors affecting kids, like low birth weights and a high uninsured rate. OICA Kid Gov. Charlotte Anderson said those are out of kids’ control.
"You guys have all the power over taking care of moms so babies are born healthy, making sure we kids can see doctors and get medicine, and keeping us safe. I need you to work on those things," Anderson said.
Anderson said kids can help with Oklahoma’s high childhood obesity rate by being more active, but adults have a role to play there, too — and not just by modeling healthy behavior. Anderson spoke out about a bill to ban transgender women and girls from school sports.
"If you ask kids, they would say Senate Bill 2 is bad because we don’t care what’s in each other’s underwear when we are playing, and neither should you," Anderson said.
Representatives of around 30 organizations and state agencies attended the first meeting for the new Healthy Kid campaign.