When I started working at OWH, I never imagined I would dance on the White House lawn with the First Lady. Who knew building strong bones could be so much fun?
Thanks to Best Bones Forever!, OWH's bone health campaign for girls, and its focus on friendship and fun, our team got to do this and more. We met the up-and-coming teen pop group Savvy, organized dance and writing contests, attended cheerleading championships, and spent the day with award-winning actor Cloris Leachman. We got to do it all while helping girls understand the importance of calcium, vitamin D, and weight-bearing physical activity.
Not only did I have a blast, I learned a lot, too. Did you know that girls build the majority of their bone mass by 18? And that far too few get the recommended amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and physical activity during those critical years? If you're the parent of an adolescent girl, you can help change that! Here's what you need to know to help your girl build strong bones for life:
- Load up on calcium. Girls need 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day. That may sound like a lot, but just one cup of low-fat or fat-free milk has 300 milligrams. Other milk products like cheese and yogurt are also packed with calcium. Plus, there are sources you may not expect, like almonds, spinach, and calcium-fortified orange juice — which actually has as much calcium per serving as milk. For more ideas, check out these tips for getting plenty of calcium-rich foods.
- Don't forget the vitamin D. Vitamin D helps bones use calcium, and girls need 600 international units (IUS) every day. Foods like salmon, fortified milk, and fortified cereals are great sources of vitamin D. Have more questions about calcium and vitamin D? Check out this page on eating for strong bones.
- Get moving — together. Girls need 60 minutes of physical activity every day, including three days a week of bone-strengthening or weight-bearing activities like walking, running, jumping, or dancing. The best part is you can join her! Help her get moving with these tips.
After five years of encouraging girls and parents to build strong bones that will last a lifetime, OWH made the strategic decision to transition the Best Bones Forever! campaign to a nonprofit partner organization. While I'm sad that I won't get to work on the campaign anymore, I'm also really excited. American Bone Health, a nonprofit based in Oakland, CA, assumed leadership of the campaign in October. With American Bone Health at the helm, there are new opportunities to reach girls where they live, learn, and play. In addition, American Bone Health has more than 350 trained peer educators who are ready to bring Best Bones Forever! to 75 cities across the country. I have no doubt that great things are ahead.
I'm so proud of the campaign OWH built. We touched the lives of millions of girls, and I'm left with amazing memories. We say, "Girls who grow strong together, stay strong forever." Thank you to all of the communities, partners, and girls who have grown strong with us; now let's stay strong forever!