Abbott developing habits for a healthy lifetime
Global healthcare leader Abbott is empowering young people to develop good health habits that will remain with them for life with its new Future Well Kids initiative
Future Well Kids is a new initiative aimed at empowering young people to create good health habits early on
From childhood, we all become familiar with the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. It is memorable but isn’t the full truth. Another quote, often misattributed to Aristotle, by Dutch author Will Durant sums it up better - ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit’.
Everyone has benign habits that they can’t explain or even remember when they started. Some habits are less benign, like biting fingernails or cracking knuckles. While others still are actively dangerous to the future of your health.
Research has consistently shown that developing good habits at a young age is critical in helping to improve young people’s health. It is also the best way to minimise the risks of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In Ireland NCDs are estimated to account for 91 per cent of deaths, compared to 71 per cent globally.
Cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease account for almost a third of all deaths.
The conditions and behaviours that lead to NCDs often start in childhood. Latest research shows that one in six children in Ireland are either overweight or obese.
That is why Abbott, a global healthcare leader, has developed Future Well Kids, a new initiative aimed at empowering young people to create good health habits early on that will remain with them for life.
“As a business, we help people live longer and better at all ages and stages of life through good health,” says Margaret Morrissey, the country HR director for Abbott in Ireland. “This starts with our life‐changing technologies but extends to everything we do, across our sites and in our work in partnership with others in local communities.”
Prevention is a key word for Morrissey. “We feel a keen responsibility to help build a healthy, thriving society and to be an active member of our local communities. Often NCDs can be prevented. Knowing we can help prevent them in our communities has motivated us to create Future Well Kids.
“We all want what’s best for our children,” says Morrissey. “We want them to be happy and to live full lives, and this starts with good health. Through Future Well Kids, we hope to inspire young people to build a healthier future.”
Future Well Kids, operating in partnership with local schools, sees Abbott employee volunteers delivering a specially designed curriculum to students. “It is all designed to be fun and very engaging; it is also very focussed on two key areas we see as very important: nutrition and exercise. The goal is to empower students to develop healthy habits today, so they can reduce their risk of getting diabetes and heart disease when they’re older.”
By the time Abbott volunteers have completed delivering the programme, which involves up to six sessions, the students will have developed their own definitions of what living a healthy life means. But education doesn’t end there. True to its name, the Future Well Kids programme will give students the tools they need to pass on their knowledge.
“Near the end of the programme, students will join with their teachers, families, and Abbott volunteers to share what they learned and present their solutions to creating a healthier community," explains Margaret Morrissey. "We are very excited to see what the students share at the end of the school year.”
Ireland is one of just three countries worldwide in which Abbott has introduced the programme. The fact Abbott has chosen to launch the programme in Ireland is a testament to the company’s longevity in the country, having first opened established here 1946. Today in Ireland, Abbott employs almost 4,000 people across nine sites.
“We have a strong culture of giving and our community work is very strong in Ireland. Last year our employees delivered more than 7,000 volunteer hours to good causes across the country. Being leaders in the development of Future Well Kids, which we hope will grow into an inspiring initiative globally, is very exciting.”
In 2019 Future Well Kids is running in three schools: St. John’s National School in Sligo, Scoil Cholmcille Senior National School in Ballybrack, Dublin and St. Michael’s National School in Cootehill, Co Cavan. According to Morrissey, however, this is just the beginning. “Given the overwhelming feedback we have received so far, there is no question that Future Well Kids will be a lot bigger in 2020.”
Morrissey concludes by reflecting on the purpose of the programme, “We know that at their healthiest, children can do amazing things. I am proud that Abbott, through Future Well Kids, will help Irish children to their lives to the fullest."