Panthers, GENYOUth, SUDIA engage leaders, students at Empowerment Town Hall

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers, GENYOUth, SUDIA and other youth-serving agencies held the first-ever Carolina Youth Empowerment Town Hall on Thursday, June 16. Hosted at Bank of America Stadium, the event brought together students, community leaders and businesses around the goal of improving youth health and wellness.

During the town hall meeting, community leaders from the fields of education, business, government, nutrition, sports and media met with Fuel Up to Play 60-enrolled students from across the Carolinas to discuss state of health and wellness at public schools. Through moderated panel discussions, breakout sessions and other activities, businesses, schools and students left with 30- and 90-day commitments to improve youth access to healthy foods, physical activity and enrichment opportunities.

“This morning offered some very impressive examples of what Fuel Up to Play 60 students right here in North and South Carolina are doing and the difference they are making in their schools,” said Carolina Panthers President Danny Morrison. “Without proper nutrition and more opportunities for physical activity, students can’t perform, either in the classroom or on the playing field. Schools can’t do it alone—they need the community’s help.”

Fuel Up to Play 60, the nation’s largest in-school health and wellness program, is a partnership of the National Dairy Council (NDC) and National Football League (NFL), which encourages students to consume nutrient-rich foods and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Schools participating in the Town Hall included Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School (Raleigh), Coulwood STEM Academy (Charlotte), Northern Guilford Middle School (Greensboro), Troutman Elementary School (Troutman), Gaffney High School (Gaffney, S.C.) and Idlewild Elementary School (Charlotte), all sharing stories about what Fuel Up to Play 60 has done for their schools.

Fabby Williams, principal of Northeast Guilford High School and a guest speaker, said the event encouraged students to take collective responsibility for their eating and physical activity habits.

“I was so pleased to be a panelist at GENYOUth’s 2016 Carolina Youth Empowerment Town Hall and to represent the ‘school practitioner’ perspective, along with folks from the business world, the nonprofit community and the NFL,” said Williams. “What a wonderful opportunity to discuss—and more important, make commitments around—ensuring that kids in the Carolinas are ‘future-ready.'”

Dottie Ryan, SUDIA assistant director of school health and wellness and NFL relations, said GENYOUth and its partners have hosted similar meetings with success in several cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, New York, St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Minneapolis.

“The meeting was an opportunity for local leaders to engage directly with students to achieve healthy, high-achieving schools,” said Ryan. “It gave students a chance to actively participate in the discussion about their health and well-being. Young people were able to interact with powerful decision makers and both sides left with ideas they can implement to help schools and students achieve their health and wellness goals.”

One idea accepted during the meeting was to continue a partnership between Minnesota-based furniture technology company Ergotron and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to study the correlation between classrooms equipped with LearnFit standing desks and higher test scores. The partnership is based on research showing that increased physical activity leads to better academic performance in students.

Special guests at the event included Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers kicker and Fuel Up to Play 60 ambassador, and Tyler Clary, a 2012 Olympic gold-medal swimmer and official MilkPEP “Built With Chocolate Milk” athlete. Event speakers included Carolina Panthers President Danny Morrison, SUDIA General Manager Cheryl Hayn, North Carolina dairy farmer and SUDIA Board of Directors Vice President Zach Myers, and GENYOUth CEO and former Fox Business News Vice President Alexis Glick.

For more information about the Carolina Youth Empowerment Town Hall, please contact Dottie Ryan at or Laura Buxenbaum at

The 2016-17 Youth Empowerment Town Hall Series is an exclusive presentation of GENYOUth: