Weslaco student recognized for obesity awareness

WESLACO — As a self-conscious sixth grader, Danee Rodriguez understood early on the dangers of obesity, and while she wasn’t excessively overweight at the time, she knew something had to be done.

That’s when Rodriguez became serious about weight loss and was driven to lead a healthier life. This, while arguably being an uncharacteristically-mature trait for an adolescent, was also the moment when she felt moved to inspire widespread change.

Such efforts were recognized Thursday evening at the Blanton Museum of Art, located inside the Edgar A. Smith Building of the University of Texas at Austin. It’s where she was honored at the Texas Health Champion Award ceremony for helping organize a wellness event at her alma mater in January.

“We had gotten the idea from the WOW Coalition,” Rodriguez, a 17-year-old senior at Weslaco High, said Thursday of the Working on Wellness program.

Spearheaded by Rodriguez and Family Career and Community Leaders of America sponsor Mary Martinez, the campus’ WOW chapter held Weslaco High School Celebrates Wellness to approximately 600 participating students and staff, who provided nutritional information and samples of healthy foods. An obstacle course promoting exercise was also on-hand.

But Rodriguez, who was nominated for the award by Martin, hasn’t stopped there as she’s continuing to work on several projects designed to reduce the obesity rate in Hidalgo County, where the McAllen metropolitan area was named the “fattest” in the United States, according to a 2012 Gallup-Healthways poll.

Among her efforts are creating an indoor walking path at the school as well as holding a second annual wellness event and a monthly farmer’s market.

For Rodriguez, the topic hits a little close to home.