What does “healthy” mean to me?
Perspectives from Youth in Foster Care

In the last issue of Fostering Perspectives we asked young people in foster care, “What does being healthy mean to you?“ Here’s what they had to say.

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First Place

Anthony, age 11     

There are four types of being healthy: physical, mental, emotional, and social.

Social health in my house means having a good friend group to talk to when you have a problem. For example, you can join clubs, have neighborhood friends, and school friends. I am part of a church club called AWANA, and I was in a school club in 4th and 5th grades.

Being emotionally and mentally healthy means to not feel down or depressed about yourself. You should be happy and feel good. I talk to my friends or my family (mom or sister) and they help me when I have a problem.

Last but not least is being physically healthy, which means eating good food and exercising. [This] doesn’t mean you have to join a football league. You could swim, run, bike, or even just play outside.

The last thing my mom taught me is that it is OK to eat junk food once in a while. You can take breaks from sports or your clubs. And I love this one: it is OK to have a free day every so often. You can just wear your pj’s one Saturday and play video games or watch Netflix or TV. . . .

Try some of these things and stay healthy.

Anthony received $100 for taking top prize in the writing contest.

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Second Place

Carissa, age 14p8-clip-2

Things that help me keep myself healthy are techniques like being able to self-soothe, “change your perspective, not your identity.” . . . The two [techniques] that [have] helped me most are (1) live in the moment and (2) accept what you can’t control.

I didn’t give up because I was a foster kid, I kept my life going and got accepted into Challenger Early College High School. I’m going to college to become an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) because I took advantage of my position in life and [am] making it into something great!

Carissa received $50 for taking second prize in the writing contest.

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Third Place

Dionna, age 15p8-clip-3a

Being healthy is something everybody can choose . . . . Being healthy on the inside is also important. When I say “inside” I don’t mean your organs, like your lungs and heart and stuff. I’m talking about being healthy mentally. When a person goes through a lot or has experienced some negative things in life it destroys the peace in their minds. When that person doesn’t get help, they get sick mentally. That’s why counselors and therapists are there—to help heal minds. It’s unhealthy for a person’s mind to be so destroyed that they would even try to commit suicide. . . . It’s not good to hold in pain and misery. . . . Take care of yourself inside and out.

Dionna received $25 for taking third prize in the writing contest.

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More Youth Ideas about What “Healthy” Means

You shouldn’t be consuming any type of drugs. Drugs can make you lose brain cells, and you can’t get those back. Instead of smoking or drinking or drugs you should work out! Do something that motivates you. Go outside and play basketball, soccer, or baseball—anything that makes you happy and [challenges you] in a positive way. . . . There are people that care about all of us. . . . Pick healthy choices in life!
— Christine, age 16

p8-clip-4aBeing healthy to me means [having] good relationships with people. . . . A healthy relationship won’t make you sad or depressed. . . . Also, being healthy . . . [means] eating right and having the proper sleep time. Being heathy . . . is important [if you want] to live through this century and make this world change for the good!
— Dawn, age 18

Your mental health and physical health go “hand in hand.” Each will always be affected by the other. . . . In so many ways my thoughts on what being healthy means go back to being in foster care and things I have dealt with in my past. This may be a little off topic, but always try to stay positive. Trust me, I know sometimes it’s hard to do, but a wise lady once told me “nothing beats failure but a try.”
— Elizabeth, age 16

One of the very common health issues that we face in America today is obesity. . . . If you’re obese you are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. . . . To stay healthy and prevent obesity eat small portions, eat reduced- or fat-free snacks, and never forget your fresh fruits and vegetables. . . . Just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean that they are healthy, either. There are some skinny people who suffer from bulimia nervosa, [which is caused by] guilt or the feeling or the need to control weight.
— Gabriella, age 15

p8-clip-5aBeing healthy to me . . . means you eat right, you exercise, and you have normal readings. But it’s also being mentally healthy, being able to physically challenge yourself. Health does revolve around your body and also your mind—because without a healthy mind you can’t have a healthy body. Health starts with a healthy attitude, and without that healthy mindset you aren’t going to receive the health you want. You have to be determined and motivated!
— Haley, age 15

Being healthy means having a positive attitude toward everything. . . . Work through every situation. For example, if something has happened at school or at home and it kind of put you down, make sure you have somebody to call or talk to, because it’s not healthy to keep worrying about the situation and keeping it inside—especially if you have no control [over the situation]. To have a great life . . . believe you can make something of yourself and block out all negativity.
— Jasmine, age 13

Healthy means eating healthy foods like broccoli, spinach, apples, sour grapes, and corn. Every veggie and fruit is very good for you. Drinking water is best for your body. I love water. I love water so much I can drink it for years. Exercise is healthy, too. I ride my bike and jump on the trampoline. Going outside is very great for you. . . . I like going outside and smelling the fresh air. Nature helps the brain, body, and the heart. All are needed to feel well.
— Trinity, age 10

These young people received $20 for having their essays published.

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Curious about Our Next Writing Contest?

Click here.