The most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian in history and star of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Apolo Anton Ohno has partnered with The Century Council and its Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program. Ohno, in conjunction with the newly formed Apolo Anton Ohno Foundation, will embark on a five-city tour to schools throughout the U.S. encouraging kids to say “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking. The Apolo Anton Ohno Foundation, established by the eight-time Olympic medalist, will focus on providing youth of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds with the opportunity to play sports, be active and learn about the benefits of making responsible and positive choices.
The post-Olympic tour will kick off on Thursday, March 4th in New York City and will continue with visits to Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ohno, in partnership with The Century Council, will bring the Ask, Listen, Learn program to schools across the country through a series of interactive sessions with middle school children to encourage them to say “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking.
“The decisions I made as a young teen heavily influenced where I am today. In fact, many of the decisions I’ve made off-the-ice have contributed the most to my success,” said Apolo Anton Ohno, winner of eight-record breaking Olympic medals in short-track speed skating. “I truly believe that healthy habits and positive choices start at childhood which is why I’m proud to establish my own Foundation and work with The Century Council to spread healthy messages, including “say no” to underage drinking, to kids across the country.”
Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council added, “Parents wield the most influence over a teen’s decision to drink, or not to drink, alcohol. By working with an elite role model such as Apolo Anton Ohno, we’re encouraging parents to talk to their kids about Ohno’s incredible achievements and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle but also the dangers of underage drinking.”
Ask, Listen, Learn was developed by The Century Council in 2003 alongside a team of educators and psychologists specializing in middle school-aged students to educate parents and kids about the dangers of underage drinking. This year, in partnership with PE4life, The Century Council created an interactive, physical fitness activity (“game”) that builds on the existing Ask, Listen, Learn program. The activity is based on recent research by Harvard Medical School’s Dr. John Ratey showing that for a person’s brain to function at its peak, the body needs to move. The “game” teaches kids about the health consequences of underage drinking and encourages kids to “say ‘YES’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking.”
In the coming weeks, Ohno will demonstrate the game at school and community-based organizations. According to a study conducted by Knowledge Networks on behalf of NBC Universal, 88% of parents say the Olympics is a great way to encourage children to adopt healthy behaviors such as exercising and eating right. Acting as a positive role model, Ohno will hold question and answer sessions with kids at each event.
Also online, Ask, Listen, Learn’s website, www.asklistenlearn.com, encourages kids to pledge to make healthy choices. The website features “SuperStars” including Apolo Anton Ohno who send positive messages to kids about staying fit and healthy and explains why elite athletes say “no” to underage drinking. The website also provides parents with information and strategies to help jumpstart the conversation about the dangers of underage drinking.