Denver Youngster Issues Earth Day Challenge: Kids Give Up Fast Food to Improve Health, Save the Planet

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Colorado Connections Academy Middle-Schooler Launches “Spring into Healthy Eating Challenge”

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The mission of Fast Food Free is to reduce the consumption of fast food through education and community awareness, resulting in healthier people and a better world

It’s not easy to convince kids to give up fast food, but twelve-year old Koa Halpern wants to do just that. The Connections Academy middle-schooler is so committed to educating his fellow youngsters about healthy eating that he started his own organization, Fast Food Free, http://www.fastfoodfree.org, when he was just ten years old. Koa’s goal is to ‘school’ kids on the nutritional, environmental and animal welfare impacts of eating fast food, and to encourage kids to take action personally, and in their schools and communities. To that end, Koa has issued a challenge to kids everywhere – the “Spring into Healthy Eating Challenge.” The challenge, which kicks off on Earth Day 2010, asks kids to sign a pledge to give up fast food for two weeks.

Koa hopes to attract thousands of students to visit his website and inspire them to take the pledge by showing the difference that one person can make by giving up fast food for two weeks. His teachers at Connections Academy were so impressed by his initiative, they sent out a letter inviting the school’s 1,200 students to participate. Word spread to other Connections Academy schools, and students around the country are now taking the pledge. Having the support of Connections Academy means Koa will be able to communicate his message of eating healthy while protecting the environment to the school’s 20,000 students nationwide.

Koa, a dedicated environmentalist and vegetarian, had never been interested in eating fast food. But when a Korean foreign exchange student living in his home developed a desire for the drive-thru, Koa’s curiosity was sparked. He embarked upon an independent study project and thoroughly researched everything about fast food from the health risks to animal rights violations to the impact on the environment. From that research, a youth-run, start-up organization was born.

“The mission of Fast Food Free is to reduce the consumption of fast food through education and community awareness, resulting in healthier people and a better world,” reads Koa’s website. “Fast Food Free is important to me because of the health risk fast food poses to people, animal rights violations, and the effects the fast food industry has on the environment. Personally, my number one concern is how the fast food industry impacts the world we live in. I don’t want kids growing up obese, I think it's awful for chickens to be packed in cages with no room to move and it's irresponsible to cause the deforestation of any country (like Costa Rica) just to feed the world fast food.”
Koa designed his website from scratch, teaching himself HTML and hand-sketching the graphics. He assembled a board of directors, composed entirely of kids who share the mission of eliminating fast food from our diet and hopes to become an official nonprofit organization – as soon as he is old enough to legally apply.

Attending Colorado Connections Academy allows Koa to balance and blend his education with his real-world interests. The virtual school supports students like Koa who want to pursue outside activities, like the arts, competitive sports, or community involvement, by providing a flexible schedule while delivering a quality education that meets all of Colorado’s state standards. To learn more about Connections Academy and the diverse, active community of students it serves, visit http://www.ConnectionsAcademy.com.

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading national provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual public and private schools in the U.S. for students in grades K–12. Connections Academy schools deliver top quality, personalized education for students that combines certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences to create a supportive and successful environment for children who want an individualized approach to education. In Connections Academy's Personalized Performance Learning® approach, students use daily lesson plans and curriculum materials provided by Connections Academy. Teachers develop a learning plan for each student, whose progress is tracked through a proprietary, web-based Learning Management System. During the 2009-2010 school year, Connections Academy served students in Arizona, California (Southern and Central), Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. New public school programs will be added in the 2010-11 school year in Indiana, Kansas, and Alaska.. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some schools do not offer all grades. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit http://www.ConnectionsAcademy.com.

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