M2K Advocacy: Steps to success

We are students from Saskatchewan who want you to know that advocating can begin at any age. Follow these easy steps to making a difference in your community!

  1. Inspiration – It begins with an idea…

When we saw what our school canteen sold to the kids and tried to make some changes to the menu, it made us realize how much companies are trying to sell unhealthy food to kids. For that reason, it is so hard to make healthy choices. In our life we are surrounded by advertisements and reminders to eat food that’s bad for us.  We were shocked about how unhealthy our world has become and this inspired us to take on this project.

  1. Educate yourself – Knowledge is power!

There are many ways to learn about a topic. Here are some of the ways we learned about Marketing to Kids:

  • Talked to experts in the field of nutrition like our public health nutritionist
  • Attended changing the menu conference
  • Started actively looking for ways companies market to kids
    • Social media and games
    • Incentives when you buy unhealthy foods
    • Placement in stores and at our local canteen
    • Sponsorship of our sports teams
    • Packaging is fun
  1. Define your goal – Continue to make new ones!

During this project, we discovered many goals we wanted to achieve:

  • make a photo voice
  • speak with people of the division board, so that our message could be heard
  • present our story nationally, so that our message would be heard more openly to others around our country

These goals have concluded that in doing this project, our main goal is to encourage others about the importance of healthy eating and healthy choices in schools and communities. We hope that the word keeps spreading about who we are, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, because we want to inspire others to do the same. Marketing affects everyone and if we make a difference, in coming together, we will be the change seen in the world.

  1. Power in numbers – Surround yourself with like-minded people

In the beginning, a bunch of friends all had the same idea about the junk in our schools being so bad, we partnered with our SLC (Student Leadership Council) they helped us organize a meeting with the teacher who runs the canteen. Turns out the public health unit, nurses and nutritionists agreed with us too and offered to help. Then the Heart and Stroke Foundation heard about us and since they were working on the same stuff, they asked us if we would like to do a photo voice on M2K. From there we invited like-minded community leaders to learn about our photo voice. Then we presented at the principals meeting and to lots of service groups who all thought we were doing great work. From there we got asked to speak at the national school food conference called changing the menu. It was really great to have 450 like minded delegates, all adults! Who knew that kids and adults from across the country all want the same thing.

  1. Present your findings

It is important to share knowledge because kids are very unhealthy. It was important to present to the principles because we need to spread awareness about unhealthy eating habits. The presentation with the school board was successful because they did make our canteen healthier. The conference in Montreal was a good learning experience, since we got to go to other presentations and learn some things we didn’t know before, which helped our knowledge on unhealthy food. For the interviews, we mostly talked about how we got started and our next steps.

  1. Facing adversary – You can’t change everyone’s view
  • Laugh it off!
  • Educate yourself and others
  • Know your facts!
  • Small changes are better than no changes
  • Never give up

After coming back from Montreal we have many new plans ahead for the New Year in 2016! M2K kids hope to speak to both provincial and federal government leaders in hopes of shining light on healthy eating and marketing regulations and asking them to pass some legislation to make life better for kids. We will be partnering with the Heart and Stroke foundation once again in hopes of attending Heart on the Hill Day at Parliament this spring. By presenting at this event we hope to let the leaders know that the kids of Canada want government to stop the marketing of unhealthy foods to kids across Canada. There is a possibility that we will be spreading the word even further by taping a video that could be shared with schools about the importance and effects of marketing to kids. It will give other students an idea of how to take up the fight where they live. We will continue to encourage others to make positive changes for healthy eating and healthy choices in schools and communities. Coming back from the Changing the Menu Conference in Montreal we feel ready to take on the next challenge we`re faced with and feel that we can accomplish anything. Look out Canada, M2K is coming for you!

By Dana Ismail, Leah Bratvold, Anika Sukkhu, Bria Szell, and Sarah Szell