Michelle Dickinson-Moravek always had a commitment to making a difference for young people, so when the time came to choose a project in Landmark’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program, it wasn’t hard for her to choose a direction. Her project, ‘Perfect Just the Way You Are’, is making an expanding impact on the health and well-being of young people in the United Sates, and may soon expand even beyond that.
Her project began with a focus on improving children’s health and well-being from two connected angles: education about diet and exercise, and a program which addresses self-confidence and self-love. This education addresses two issues which affect many children today: obesity and bullying. Michelle sees these issues as going hand in hand, as overweight children are far more likely to be bullied.
She envisioned a program with elements on diet, exercise, protecting oneself, leadership, and self-expression. There were many obstacles along the way, and Dickinson-Moravek said it took all of her passion to remain unstoppable when things weren’t going well. A huge challenge for her was when she was faced with giving the project away. She spoke to Johnson & Johnson about taking on the project, and was flabbergasted when they said yes. The catch: they needed her to stay on to support and manage it.
The first pilot program was delivered in Patterson, New Jersey, in eight sessions to 54 participants in the 5th through 7th grades. It was a huge success. Students overwhelmingly loved the activities, and teachers and the principal told her in interviews that the culture of the school was changing in a healthier way.
In 2014, Johnson & Johnson is bringing the program to two Pennsylvania schools and two San Diego schools and is looking to expand even further than that, after all the deliverables are tested, even to Mexico. Dickinson-Moravek now just supports the new project leaders with whatever is needed.
“Holy smokes!” she says, looking back on what she’s created. “I’m in awe of people and what’s possible.”