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Phase Too —

February 18, 2012

Our goal in bringing down the billboards is to nudge Strong4Life totally into Phase 2, like a mother bird nudging the dimmest of her babies out of the nest. If Ron Frieson and his team of genii at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) want to post billboards like this…

… around Atlanta, we support them!

But the fact that Strong4Life and CHOA are setting their sights on children in poverty is about the lowest of the low.

That is why we are asking Carter’s to stop supporting CHOA.

Carter’s has donated at least $100,000 to CHOA, and on Friday they explained where those purchases go:

That’s fine, but that’s $100,000 that CHOA could easily make up from the $50 million dollar Strong4Life campaign. And why should CHOA have to pay for their equipment themselves? In less than 2,000 words, I have laid out exactly why Carter’s, and everyone else, should stop supporting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta until they end Phase 1.

In support of this aim, I sent the following letter to Mike Casey, Chairman and CEO of Carter’s on Saturday at 4:41 p.m. Central Standard Time. I have asked him to respond by noon on Monday (again, Central Standard Time).

After that, I turn it over to the anti-Strong4Life rabble to plead our cause.

See you Monday!

Hi Mike,
My name is Shannon Russell and I am with the campaign to end Phase 1 of the Strong4Life campaign run by Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.

I will be brief, as I know you are a busy man.

I have written a 2,000 word summary of what has taken place since January 5, when I began covering this issue. Before you decide to act or not act, I would recommend reading it, as there are some rather unsavory details that we have been documenting and the media has begun to cover, as in this February 9 BBC article.

This campaign is medically and morally wrong, and the following organizations and celebrities agree with us:

  • National Institutes of Health (PDF)

On March 20, we will begin a media counter offensive against Strong4Life and we have already been in contact with producers of Nightline, as well as local Atlanta stations.

And we have yet to issue a press release.

But you can be certain that at every interview our team does, we will be sure to mention the connection to Carter’s, whether you support us or not.

Phase 1 is coming to an end and after that you’ll be rid of us forever, and you are in a position to expedite that process by contacting the following people who are responsible for, and directly connected to, the ad campaign:

Stephanie Walsh
Medical Director of CHOA
404 785 6104

Linda Matzigkeit
Vice President of CHOA
404 785 7824

Ron Frieson
Chairman of Strong4Life
404 785-6101

Please ask them to stop the billboard campaign in poor, urban neighborhoods and to move on to the positive “solutions” phase of the campaign.

Thank you for your time and I hope that you will join us on the right side of history.

Shannon Russell

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2012 5:18 pm

    I do not, in any way, shape, or form, agree with putting up billboards like the one at the top. I don’t agree that people haven’t been talking about childhood obesity or “ignoring the problem” , I do not agree that we should be focusing on the weight of children or trying to make them thin. While I’m glad that this billboard has happy fat kids in clothes that fit them, that doesn’t make the message of focusing on kids weight nay less harmful.


    • February 18, 2012 5:57 pm

      I agree Ragen, but what I meant was that anything is better than Phase 1. Besides, I doubt CHOA has any interest in billboards that don’t depict dire fatties.

      But I completely agree with you.


      • February 18, 2012 7:52 pm

        Shannon, I have nothing good to say about any billboard that uses the words “childhood obesity.” I disagree with you if you do. Also, the billboards are not my target…the weight-based definition of health and weight discrimination are my targets. Unlike you, I do not promise anyone to stop bothering them if they remove one objectionable object from the landscape. I will continue publicly opposing weight-based definitions of health and weight discrimination, no matter their source.

        • February 18, 2012 9:59 pm

          Marilyn, I never said anything about being in favor of any childhood obesity posters. As I explained to Ragen, I was simply trying to say that anything is better than the current billboards. Although I don’t believe the emphasis should be on weight rather than overall health, I would be more concerned by Phase 1 billboards than these proximations, mainly because this colorized campaign does not have the same assaulting quality on children. But what I said was for rhetorical flourish, not any sort of endorsement or recommendation.


        • February 19, 2012 3:19 pm

          I would like to take this discussion off of this page since we are still in the midst of this campaign. But I have posted a more detailed response here:


  2. vesta44 permalink
    February 18, 2012 6:22 pm

    S4L is saying that the “childhood obesity epidemic” was ignored until they started their ill-conceived campaign and got everyone talking about it. I want to know what planet they’ve been living on for the last 10 or so years (at least)? This so-called “COE” has been in the news for at least that long and has been called a problem by doctors for at least that long, if not longer. And I know for a fact that kids have been bullied about their weight for at least 50 years, and probably longer than that (I’m 58 and I was bullied about my weight from the age of 8 on). So that billboard – not acceptable to me at all. S4L is lying, and if they think that putting those kids in better-fitting clothes, with happy faces, is going to make me like S4L and their campaign any better, they’re sadly mistaken. They’re still shaming and bullying kids because of their weight, they’re still ignoring the fact that thin kids can have unhealthy behaviors too, and they’re still conflating weight and health.
    Until S4L stops conflating weight and health, stops targeting only fat kids, starts working on making the health of ALL kids a priority, and starts working on making healthy food accessible for ALL kids and making safe places for ALL kids to play a priority, they will have nothing but my contempt and scorn.

  3. Duckie Graham permalink
    February 18, 2012 10:43 pm

    Oh you guys/gals! I agree with you all and I also recognize that the war is won on battlefields. One victory at a time. One goal, one army, multiple battalions on battlefields. The one strategy includes multiple levels and we all celebrate our successes together. We don’t have to agree with everything all the time, we only need to take a stand as one army of awesomeness!

    • February 18, 2012 11:05 pm

      Amen. 🙂


    • February 18, 2012 11:45 pm


      I understand that it’s often more comfortable to go with a “can’t we all just get along” point of view, but I think it’s clear from the fact that all three comments here disagree with the original posting that there is some controversy here and I don’t think that it’s best to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s not that anyone is right or wrong – .but when Atchka said “We support them!” (rather than “I support them!”) it makes it very unclear for whom he is speaking – the Facebook Group? He, Marilyn and I? Fierce Fatties? Therefore it was very important to me that it be clear that I do not, in any way “support them”, since Shannon and I have worked together on many aspects of this issue and thus the reader might think that he was speaking for me. I vehemently disagree with a strategy that says “we support anything less crappy than the original crappy thing” and I don’t consider a switch to the above billboards a victory of any kind, or a battle worth fighting. That doesn’t change my level of respect for Atchka, we just don’t agree on this particular strategy. You are absolutely right that we don’t need to agree with each other on everything but we should take care to only speak for ourselves, and we always have the right to speak for ourselves.


  4. February 19, 2012 3:57 am

    I agree with Ragen and Marilyn that no, something simply ‘less crappy’ than the original billboards is not acceptable. Rhetorical flourish or not, when you say ‘we support them’ it seems that you are speaking for more people than just yourself Shannon, although it is unclear who exactly you are speaking for. I would not support any billboard that places ‘childhood obesity’ as a problem that needs to be talked about, examined or discussed. You have done some great work on this campaign Shannon but in my (humble) opinion you really need to rethink and rephrase this one.

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