Jeff Foxworthy thinks it’s time to stop negative stereotyping of teens. The comic and “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader” host wants to get the word out about 7 Days Across America, an effort to showcase the good deeds of today’s youth, with a team meeting such teens beginning tomorrow (9/5) in San Diego, winding up Sept. 12 in New York. They’re visiting 14 cities in all.
“I just thought it was a cool idea,” says Jeff of the program that includes awarding of a $5,000 scholarship (see www.7Daysacrossamerica.com for details). He notes that according to research by the not-for-profit Encouragement Foundation, which is spearheading the effort, “about 71 per cent of the press about teens is negative. They just said, ‘There’s a lot of great kids out there, and maybe just by bringing some of these good stories to light, it will encourage other kids to say, ‘I can do that.’”
For Jeff, it’s personal. Two of the teenagers he considers great happen to be his daughters, Jordan and Julianne. “They’re good kids, and they run with good kids – good friends. But that’s not what gets attention,” he says.
Jeff took Jordan to Africa when she was 14 as part of a church charity trek. She came back determined to do something to fight malaria, which kills more children in Africa than HIV/AIDS, and teamed with Compassion International to develop the Bite Back campaign. Since then, the 17-year-old has been back to Africa three times — and raised a half million dollars.
Younger daughter Julianne “has been making us laugh since she was two. She’s just naturally funny. And she’s a really good writer.”
As for himself, “It’s been a busy summer,” Jeff understates. He taped 170 episodes of “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader” – both the upcoming new daily syndicated version, and the prime time show that starts its new season on Fox Sept. 21. Then he jumped into a string of standup comedy gigs all over the country.
“Speaking of encouragement, that’s one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about the show,” adds Foxworthy, “that I’ve seen in my mail letters from teachers saying, ‘You’ve made it cool for kids to be smart again.’ Wow, not only are we hopefully a little entertaining, but we’re encouraging and positive as well.”