The Power Forward Charity Concert: The WNBA, Black Thought & Childhood Obesity

The "Power Forward" concert, postponed due to the New York Rangers' playoff game against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, is a charity concert that will bring the New York Liberty together with New York and New Jersey business professionals, city officials, activists, philanthropists, and residents for a night of music and advocacy.

What originally caught my eye about the event was the involvement of Black Thought, lead MC of The Roots, whose GrassROOTS Community Foundation (GCF) is a co-sponsor of the event. But what actually makes it significant is that 40% of the proceeds will go toward GCF's H.E.A.L. Program, which is one of their many programs focused on "increasing physical activity, reducing obesity and enhancing mental and physical health" for young girls.

Childhood obesity is an issue that has become an international public health crisis, which has both gained increasing public attention in the U.S. while sadly losing political traction.

Nevertheless, Serena Gordon of Health Day reported this week that a new study has found that we might be winning that battle, although one group is still lagging behind.

"In this analysis, we found a substantial decline in obesity prevalence among young children during 2004 to 2008. However, the smaller decrease in obesity prevalence in Medicaid-insured children suggests that the coming years may see a widening of socioeconomic disparities in childhood obesity," wrote the study's authors.

There's a lot more that could be said about potential reasons for the more intransigent epidemic along socioeconomic lines, but most relevant to the WNBA and the GCF is that the problem is especially prevalent among black girls living in low-income communities, as described by clinical psychologist and social epidemiologist Dr. Gary Bennett on Left of Black earlier this week.


Dr. Gary Bennett discusses the obesity epidemic in Black communities on Left of Black (via FranklinCenterAtDuke)

It's that specific challenge in low-income communities that the GCF and its associated programs have targeted, which is what makes the Power Forward event particularly significant and worthy of our attention and, if possible, support.

The WNBA is obviously in a somewhat unique position to support this effort as the longest-running women's professional sports league in the U.S., even if they're not always at the forefront of efforts on the ground. But even if the league doesn't actively sponsor events like these, its very existence presents a model of how to counteract the very thing that Bennett says leads to childhood obesity in the most vulnerable populations: inactivity.

Click here for details and ticket information for the Power Forward Concert. For more on the Grassroots Community Foundation, visit their website at http://grass-rootsfoundation.org. For more on the H.E.A.L. Program in particular, visit http://www.grass-rootsfoundation.org/heal/heal.html.

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