DALLAS – When David Gibson of Highland Village offered to join his fourth-grade daughter Tobey in the healthy eating project she’d brought home from school in January 2015, he had no idea that it would completely change his life, resulting in a 70-pound weight loss.

The inspiration for Gibson’s “slender by summer” success (he lost it all in just six months) was the kids teaching kids 21-Day Challenge.

Kids teaching kids was created in 2010 by Medical City Children’s Hospital. In partnership with the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, Texas ProStart culinary programs and school districts across North Texas, high school culinary students create healthy snack recipes while graphic arts and photography students design cookbooks especially for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Because snacking makes up nearly 30 percent of a child’s daily intake, the program emphasizes making better snack choices by replacing calorie-dense, nutrition-poor treats with whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and at least two servings of fruits and vegetables. The 21-Day Challenge is built on the premise that it takes three weeks to change a habit.  

Gibson is living proof that starting small can yield big results. He lost 10 pounds the first month — during the program’s 21-Day Challenge — just by cutting out sodas and fast food. Gibson’s wife N’Cole credits kids teaching kids with sparking a healthy change for the whole family. 

“Tobey had the kids teaching kids chart on the fridge,” said N’Cole. “She would write down her snack substitutions and David would ask her what healthy snack she was choosing each day. It started a progression that trickled through our household, and when the girls (the Gibsons also have a 15-year-old daughter, Parker) saw how it changed my husband’s health, they were more motivated to make good choices.”

“I’ve tried diets before,” says David, “And I would lose some weight and then gain it all back and more. I don’t consider this a diet — it’s a lifestyle change.”

Nearly 40,000 students from 14 school districts are currently in the second week of the snack challenge, which runs January 23 to February 12.

To see the latest photos from North Texas students, parents and staff participating in the 21-Day Challenge, follow Medical City Children's Hospital on Twitter.