NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (PIX11) – Not many people turn to kids for advice, but after meeting Gabriel Laurent, you may have a change of heart.
“People really need to start taking care of themselves and stop eating fast foods,” said Laurent. “To help yourself calm down, sometimes you can use things like stuffed animals, toys, or you can do something that you enjoy.”
To hear this sage advice coming from a sixth-grader, the message hits you differently.
Laurent, 11, is a Central Jersey College Prep Charter School student and a Youth Heart Advocate for the American Heart Association.
“To teach people how to keep your heart healthy and to them aware of people whose hearts have defects,” Laurent said.
Gabriel is one of just six kids across the Garden State to be chosen for the 2023-2024 school year. Some of the children are survivors of heart conditions themselves.
“I was ecstatic!” said Laurent when he found out he was chosen. “Me and my mom were jumping with joy.”
Whether roaming the halls of his school, in the classroom or at recess, he’s doing an extraordinary job at being an outspoken advocate for his peers to live a healthy life – physically and mentally.
“Start young, train ourselves to be heart healthy, to be kind to each other, we’d just be better people for it,” said Matthew Fernandes of the American Heart Association.
“He’s been a great student,” said school Chief Education Officer Dr. Namik Sercan. “I think he’s excelling in every area possible. I’m not surprised he’s involved in such a great cause.”
Gabriel loves to crochet and play soccer with his brother, Noah and said he wants to be a mathematician one day.
That may be his next purpose, but his purpose now is leading by example and getting others to advocate like him.
“By eating healthy and also exercising, they can keep fit,” said Laurent.