John Dye

Chairman, Executive Committee, Live54218
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014

This journalist turned an editorial campaign into a community organization that aims to lower the rate of childhood obesity in Green Bay.

As executive editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette , I launched an editorial campaign in 2010 asking readers to identify the biggest problem facing our economically and ethnically diverse community. The answer: childhood obesity. Twenty percent of low-income toddlers in Green Bay, WI, are obese.

In response to our campaign, teams of community members met for the next year to review the effectiveness of existing wellness programs and find ones that would help us raise healthier children.

When I retired in 2012 after 40 years in journalism, I began to see connections between my previous work and my granddaughter. Emily has asthma, but with the help of devoted parents and grandparents, she leads a healthy and active life. There are countless children lacking that support system and I realized I could keep making a difference for other kids by turning the editorial campaign I had launched earlier into an organization.


  • Annual “Walk and Bike to School Days” draw 10,000 students 

  •  “Farm to School” program gave 537 healthy food lessons to 2,840 elementary school students in eight school districts in 2013


 

That’s when I led the charge to found Live54218. The name is a guideline for healthy living. Every day, everyone should eat five fruits and vegetables, drink four bottles of water, have less than two hours of screen time, have at least one hour of physical activity and sleep for eight hours.

We educate on individual behavior change and create community environments to support it. Our innovative coalition includes the newspaper, the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, competing health care providers, businesses and educational institutions. We’ve had enthusiastic support for our initiative, raising $1 million in grants and private contributions.

We are new, but we’re already making an impact. Our countywide ‘Walk and Bike to School Days’ engage more than 10,000 students every year. Our ‘Farm to School’ program puts local fruits and vegetables on school lunch trays in all eight local school districts and educates kids on healthy eating. In 2013 alone, we presented 537 healthy food classroom lessons to 2,840 students grades K-5.

Each day, I continue to be inspired by my granddaughter Emily, as I dedicate myself to helping children grow up in a community that helps them live healthy lives.