California Health Summit | Spotlight

Zelman gets 4 students into ‘action’ summit
to address childhood obesity, meet Bill Clinton

Pictured with Secretary of the California’s Health and Human Services Agency Kimberly Belshé are CSULA health science majors (l-r) Miriam Ghezzehai, Sarah Freeman, Ana-Alicia Rangel, and Ella Lee.
Pictured with Secretary of the California’s Health and Human Services Agency Kimberly Belshé—the highest ranking health official in California—are CSULA health science majors (l-r) Miriam Ghezzehai, Sarah Freeman, Ana-Alicia Rangel, and Ella Lee.

Cal State L.A.’s health science majors Sarah Freeman, Miriam Ghezzehai, Ella Lee and Ana-Alicia Rangel recently joined Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and public health, education, community and local government leaders from throughout the state in promoting the health and wellness of California.

Through the initiative and connections of Cal State L.A.’s Health Science Professor Walter Zelman, the four CSULA students were invited to attend the “2010 Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity: Action for Healthy Living,” where they learned about advocating healthy eating, physical fitness and community-level health efforts.

The summit, hosted by the Office of the California Governor, brought together diverse stakeholders to discuss the best policy and practices to promote healthy living and a healthier future for Californians. The summit also reinforces First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight childhood obesity and to raise a healthier generation of kids.

At the summit, the four CSULA students also met and talked briefly with former President Bill Clinton, who co-leads The Alliance for a Healthier Generation with Schwarzenegger. The Alliance aims to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Pictured with former President Bill Clinton: (l-r) Sarah Freeman, Ana-Alicia Rangel and Miriam Ghezzehai.
Pictured with former President Bill Clinton: (l-r) Sarah Freeman, Ana-Alicia Rangel and Miriam Ghezzehai.

Zelman, chair of Cal State L.A.’s Department of Health Science, was a senior health care adviser to President Clinton in the early 1990s and a special deputy in the California Department of Insurance in 1991-92. Zelman is an expert on California government and politics and health policy and markets, focusing specifically on the uninsured, insurance and managed care, and health care costs.

According to Ghezzehai, “The obesity summit was a lifetime experience as we got a chance to participate in an event with former President Bill Clinton and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I found it very inspiring and educational. The summit revealed various public health interventions and policies that are being implemented to decrease the prevalence of obesity, such as the banning of carbonated beverages in schools and health education. As health science students here at CSULA, the summit was highly related to our current studies, therefore I hope to be part of the change in my post-baccalaureate studies.”

Freeman noted, “This summit was by far the most incredible experience I have had in my professional and educational history. Being in such an intimate setting with not only President Clinton and Governor Schwarzenegger, but with big names in all aspects of the health arena, was so surreal. We were identified by many, including California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Kim Belshé, as ‘Ooh, you’re Zelman’s students!’”

“The summit itself,” Freeman said, “was so important to trying to tackle malnutrition (mostly over nutrition) and obesity. Seeing a bipartisan effort with both parties coming together for the health of Californians was so important to current problems. The stories of change within communities were inspiring. Overall, the main point was that change is not only necessary, but possible.”

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