Dealing with Health Realities

The LEAP Foundation DC mission is simple: To bridge the gap between hope and achievement. We work hard to give all disadvantaged and minority youth and their families a chance at the same education and opportunities as others in their community. But it isn’t easy. We recognize the challenges that exist for the underprivileged. Racism remains alive and well in our country and we recognize this now more than ever as the country – and the world – reacts to the killings of black Americas like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor. Not only have African Americans had this to face, but there’s also the reality that higher rates of infection and death of COVID-19 exist for the black population.

So how do we address such catastrophic realities? We start where we can. Part of LEAP’s approach is to address important health topics that exist for individuals and groups, such as childhood disease and obesity. Today, we’ll discuss the latter and why and how you can get involved in tackling an issue that ultimately leads to poor physical and mental health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity was 13.9% for those 2 to 5 years old, 18.4% for those 6 to 11 years old and 20.6% for those 12 to 19 years old.

LEAP Foundation DC founder and president Dr. Clayton Lawrence is committed to maintaining optimum health and, in turn, he not only sets a positive example for young African American men to take control of their own health, but as a youth mentor, he invites them along to personally experience the benefits of physical exercise. Dr. Lawrence has completed more than 120 marathons, many of which have supported youth-focused nonprofits that are committed to encouraging young people to get physically active today not only for their health, but for a positive future. A few of his mentors have even come along to finish out several of the marathons with him.

Did you know that childhood obesity leads to major factors that affect the future success of young people? These include:

Lower self-esteem and a lack of belief in one’s abilities.

An increase in major health risks, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

Risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

Problems connecting with others.

Poor grades.

Lifelong weight problems.

Those who make healthier lifestyle choices at a young age are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.

Overweight youth are more likely to be bullied.


There are so many ways you, too, can get involved in the fight against childhood obesity.

Meal plan together.

Lead by example.

Work out together.

Set goals together.

Be open and honest about the importance of regular, daily exercise.

Encourage participation in extracurricular activities like school sports or travel leagues.

Eliminate soda and sugary drinks.

Encourage less screen time and more sleep.

Work with a trusted doctor to create an approved fitness routine.

Get back to basics and encourage the youth to choose meals and snacks from the five major food groups.

Have open and honest conversations about body shaming and body acceptance.