Write Your Own Op-Ed

You care about this cause and want to make a difference in your community. But, how can you share your ideas in a way that inspires others to join you?

One way is to write an opinion editorial, also known as an op-ed, to be placed in a local media outlet. When you write about your cause publicly, either in your local newspaper, magazine, or even a popular blog, you’re spreading awareness to legislators, journalists, and other members of your community, giving them the chance to learn more about the issue and get involved.

Ready to write your own op-ed? Let’s get started by breaking down the sample op-ed below.

 

It’s important to make your key points early and often so that your reader understands why this is meaningful for them.

Headline

[YOUR FULL NAME]

Each morning before my kids go to school, I serve them a healthy breakfast to start their day off right. It’s usually oatmeal or eggs, and there’s always a piece of fruit and a glass of low fat milk. Once they catch the bus and go to school, I expect my children’s school to be an environment that not only supports learning, but also health and wellness. I expect the food they are served at school, as well as any messages about food and drinks, to reinforce the healthy eating habits I’m teaching my kids at home.

Unfortunately, my efforts and those of other parents are being undermined by the junk food marketing kids see during the school day—from the sugary drink banner ad on the bus to the branded candy fundraisers organized by the soccer team. Our kids deserve better.

Like many parents, I expect schools to teach more than math and writing. Schools help students learn life skills. I want my kids’ school to teach healthy eating that helps my children avoid heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems later in life. I expect it to provide an environment where the healthy habits I teach my children at home are reinforced—not undermined.

Unfortunately, children are getting mixed messages in schools. On everything from the bus that picks them up in the morning to the materials they read in class, unhealthy food advertisements tempt my children with fruit drinks, doughnuts, pizza, and other junk food, undermining the lessons I taught them just hours earlier. Sometimes, I feel I’m fighting a losing battle.

But lately, I’ve been hearing about schools around the country that are taking a different approach; they’re getting rid of the junk food marketing and working with schools and companies to replace unhealthy food marketing with healthier options. If my children’s school did the same, I know it would help.

Where you can, be sure to include your state, town, county, or the specific school district that you want to reach.

That’s why I’m urging our school district to stop selling our kids short. By getting companies to market only healthier foods and beverages in school, we can eliminate unhealthy messages that undermine children’s health and parents’ efforts without sacrificing much-needed funds for our schools. I read that more than 80% of schools get no income from the marketing of foods and beverages that do not meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards, and nearly 90% of school officials note that school programs and activities would not be reduced if advertisements of unhealthy food ceased.

We can protect our kids from today’s greatest public health woes, like obesity and diabetes. I encourage other parents and community members to join me.

Whether a parent or not, we can all agree on the importance of helping the next generation lead healthy lives. Eliminating the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages in our community’s schools and on buses is a step in the right direction. Join me in urging our local leaders to remove the marketing of junk food and unhealthy drinks from our kids’ schools, so we can send our children the right message about eating healthfully and living active lives.

Remember to include a link at the end of your piece so that your readers know how to join your movement or create a campaign of their own.

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