Theme of New Reality Show Already at Work in Region 8

JONESBORO, AR -- ABC has a new program called "Shaq's Big Challenge" that features NBA star Shaquille O'Neal teaching kids how to live a healthier lifestyle.  There is already a program like that going on right here in Region 8.

The NEA Clinic Center for Healthy Children focuses on teaching overweight kids the right way to eat and exercise.

"What we're doing is not about being skinny; it's about being healthy," said Laura Taylor of the Center for Healthy Children.

Taylor said seeing a program like the ABC show makes her even more proud of what they're doing.

"I'm thrilled that Shaq is doing this for kids because it is something we're doing right here in Northeast Arkansas and we've seen great results so far.  I'm just so excited to see something like this on a national scale," said Taylor.

The kids seem to like the program because the people at the center try to make the exercise fun.

"We don't ever want exercise to feel like punishment.  We would like for them to find a sport that they enjoy or a game that they enjoy.  We have Dance Dance Revolution and the Play Station bike system," said Taylor.

The kids have a free play and structured exercise.

Austin Lynn was in the second and third group at the clinic and said he has learned a lot from the program.

"I've switched from regular soda's to diet soda's," said Lynn.

"We do want them to understand that everything's ok in moderation.  We would never take snacks away from a child we would never encourage parents to put a child on a strict diet," said Taylor.

"It's helped me because it's helped me make healthier choices.  When I go to a restaurant instead of ordering sweet tea I order unsweet tea," said Clay Smith.

Taylor said half of the kids who enroll in the program have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

"Anything over 200 is just  not good and it's just not common for children to have high cholesterol," said Taylor.

This program was actually developed because of the BMI testing in schools.  Parents would get results from the school and not understand them so they would go to their family doctors.  Their family doctors and Shaq agree educating kids early can lead to a health life.