October 9, 2006 -- Posted at 7:30 CST
Jonesboro, AR - According to the 2005 Arkansas Assessment of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity, 21% of students are significantly overweight! Why, the problem lies with lack of exercise and healthy nutrition.
The NEA Charitable Foundation saw these statistics and decided something needed to be done to keep our kids off the couch and out of the fridge. The Center for Healthy Children has been open since February and Laura Taylor the Operating Manager says there has been a great turnout.
"Why not, it's a free exercise program after school, and they have lots of fun activities that incorporate exercise."
Through the program the kids learn portion control, calorie counting, dietary needs, snack preparation, and self esteem. They exercise using resistance equipment, eliptical machines, game bikes, dance dance revolution games, rock climbing, swimming, walking, outside games, and martial arts with Joey Perry.
"We try to get them out and do things that are inexpensive and something the whole family can do together. We take them to the park, rock wall climbing, outside, anything to get them to use the resources available and get a good workout."
But the kids aren't the only ones learning.
"We want to teach the kids and the parents healthy eating habits and better ways to cook using healthier foods. We have a nutrition class the parents and their children can sign up for and learn all about what's better for them."
Joseph has been going out to the Center and loves it, and says he has learned some valuable lessons that he uses at home.
"We have learned about portion control and calories, and exercising. My favorite is the dance dance revolution, you get to exercise but it doesn't feel like it."
The programs are for children 6-12 and it's free! Sessions are Monday thru Friday from 3 - 7 p.m. The kids stay for a one hour session. The nutrition classes are given twice a month with a registered dietician.