School & Community News

Letters to leaders: ‘I want to help people who need help’
May 4, 2019

May 2019… The stories of health leaders featured in the Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities book series are read throughout the school year in Healthy NewsWorks schools and used as a springboard for student writing. The letters below are among those written by students who recently read the 2018 book.

Our ninth book, Leading Healthy Change In Our Communities 2019, will be published this month. To meet some of the students and health leaders, you can attend our book-launch celebration May 29.

You can also read letters to leaders whose stories were in earlier books and learn more about the book program

Kevin Bethel

Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow
Former Deputy Police Commissioner
Philadelphia Police Department

Dear Mr. Bethel,
I have come to believe that you are an awesome person. For example, first you had a 30-year career as a police officer. But you wanted to expand a program you had started at the police department that helps kids avoid arrest. You believed that law enforcement could do a better job in helping kids. You started to help kids put their lives on track.

I believe you make a difference because you help (kids). Your work makes me want to tell the world what you do. Thank you for helping kids.

Yours truly,
Joelies Medina, fifth grade
William Cramp Fit Flyer

Thomas Watanabe, M.D.

Clinical Director
Drucker Brain Injury Center
and Stroke Rehabilitation Center

Dear Dr. Watanabe,
I just want to say that what you do is amazing! I think that it is awesome that you help people, especially kids, with concussions. I was so surprised when I found out you are a physiatrist and have been doing it for 20 years and loving it. I think that is very inspiring for kids who want to be doctors.

I wonder what would have happened to the people you helped if you had not been able to help them. You have influenced their lives in such a positive way.

Thank you for all that you do and for inspiring me and others to see what great things you can do if you work hard to help others.

Yours Truly,
Sara Chaaraoui, fifth grade
East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin

Luther T. Clark, M.D.

Deputy Chief Patient Officer

Dear Dr. Clark,
I have come to believe that you have been through a lot and you still work hard. …
Once you chose cardiology, you knew you had to study a lot. … Your parents, especially your mother and teachers, encouraged you to work hard. Also, you had to overcome people doubting your ability because of the color of your skin. You said, “overcoming that forced me to work harder.”

You understand why some people are scared about clinical trials. You said African Americans were once tricked into thinking they were getting help when they really weren’t [being helped]. I wonder if there would probably be more deaths if you didn’t start doing what you do. …

I believe you make a difference because of your care for others. You have probably saved hundreds of people. Your work makes me want to do my best to help others learn more about the world. Thank you for teaching me so much about you and your history.
You have helped me by telling me about why it is important to take care of your heart.

Yours truly,
Nicolas Copeland, fifth grade
James Dobson Fit Fin

Jarrett Stein

Executive Director and Co-Founder
Rebel Ventures

Dear Mr. Stein,
I like the way you think and how you care about health. I believe that you are nice and creative. You try and make us stay healthier. You also want us to live longer, so we choose healthy food over junk food. Also, the Rebel Crumbles breakfast cakes your company makes are very popular. You sell 700,000 a year to schools.

You make people feel happy and joyful. I know because I had your cakes before. They made my day. Finally, you make us happy because we can eat good food. The best part is that it is healthy. . . .

Your work makes me want to thank you for being a good person and making healthy food. Thank you for making your snack.

Yours truly,
Eric Corey III, fifth grade
James Dobson Fit Fin

Marisa Jones

Senior Manager
Safe Routes to School National Partnership

Dear Ms. Jones,
After reading the article about you, I was inspired and happy. I have come to believe you are a very kind person. The facts speak for themselves. For example, first you are dedicated to making it easier for kids to bike, jog, and stay healthy. When you were a young age, you realized that you could make a big difference where you lived.

Later, you thought about being a doctor because you wanted to help people. But then you realized you could only help one person at a time. You wanted to work on community health so now you can help a lot of people at once.

Yours truly,
Destiny Torres, fifth grade
St. Veronica Healthy Hero

Christopher Renjilian, M.D.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Founding Physician Leader

Dear Dr. Renjilian,
After reading your article, I have learned that being outside is better for my heart. You have told kids that every time we exercise we make our hearts healthy.

You have inspired me to spend more time in nature. I have come to believe that I should have fun in nature.

Yours truly,
Isbely Sanchez, fifth grade
St. Veronica Healthy Hero

Alex Ortega, Ph.D.

Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management
Dornsife School of Public Health
Drexel University

Dear Dr. Ortega,
After reading your article, “Asking questions, finding answers,” I believe you did a great job helping people. You placed all the junk food at the back of the stores and put fruits and vegetables in the front.

You are interested in the health of Latino children. You care about getting more Latino kids covered by health insurance. You want to provide information to their parents on how to get coverage for the kids. …

You want people to live a healthy life and you help them find the resources to do so.

Your work makes me want to make healthy choices for me and my friends. Thank you for caring about the Latino community. You have helped me understand that fruits and vegetables are better for my health.

Yours truly,
Edward Garcia, fourth grade
Whitehall Healthy Reporter

Taunya English

Editorial Director of the “Pulse”

Dear Ms. English,
After reading your article, “Telling stories to help people lead healthier lives,” I have come to believe that not all neighborhoods are created equal. The facts speak for themselves.

For example, first, you said, “some neighborhoods have smooth sidewalks that make it easier to exercise and walk. But other neighborhoods have sidewalks that are broken, that make it harder for a lot of people to move around and exercise.” Also, you said that there is a neighborhood with more soda advertisements than others, which means that those people are encouraged to drink more soda, which is not good for their health. Finally, you said “parents can do things to help their kids breathe easier, like using a special pillowcase to prevent mites.”

I wonder: without you, would people have more difficult lives? When you give a speech, it makes people’s lives easier. I believe you make a difference because you want to [let people know about] the soda ads, have better sidewalks, and use more special pillowcases. Your work makes me want to help you.

Thank you for making the world a better place. You have helped me want to help other communities in the future.

Yours truly,
Gio Pavese, fourth grade
Cole Manor Healthy Comet

Patrick Walsh

Pantry Manager
Martha’s Choice Marketplace

Dear Mr. Walsh,
I’m inspired by your work. You inspired me because you are helping others by giving people food at no cost. You are helping people with no money.

You are a good role model because you aren’t picking on people or bullying them, you are helping them with food to feed themselves. You’re helping them with their needs.

I would like to do your job because I want to help people that need help with food. I want to be that person when I grow up. I want to make sure people have what they need.

Janeth Trejo, fifth grade
Eisenhower Healthy Panther

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.