Event focuses on Healthy Children
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Hanover High School hosted the first Healthy Children Initiative night June 11. This free event, sponsored by the Chickahominy Health District Board, spread awareness of healthy living and emphasized the prevention of childhood obesity.
Participants get a martial arts demonstration.
Lt. Gov. William T. Bolling, one of the guest speakers, presented the alarming statistic that 37 percent of Virginians were considered overweight and 23 percent obese in 2004. These numbers fall just shy of the average for all Americans. In 2003, he continued, 45 percent of fourth-graders in a Virginia-based sample were either overweight or at risk for being so.
"In those early years we learn a lot of habits, good and bad, that we have for a lifetime," Bolling said. He suggested that parents turn off the television and computer for two hours every day to avoid their children becoming sedentary. In addition, he cautioned against too much junk food at home and in schools with prominently displayed vending machines.
He brought up last year's state health initiative called "Steptember," a program supporting activity and weight loss through which Bolling shed 28 pounds.
"If I can do it, you can do it," he said. "It will make a big difference in the quality of life." He praised the Healthy Children Initiative Event for building communication about fitness and health issues.
Rob Ukrop, whose background includes 12 years as a professional soccer player, incorporated sports language into his speech to convey the importance that attitude has on well-being.
"I'm a big believer that change starts small," he said. "Instead of going for home runs all the time, you can hit a run with a bunch of singles." If someone replaces just one soda per day with a glass of water, he said, that would equal 40 extra gallons of water for the year.
"My mom tells me this a lot, (though) I'm not sure what she means by it: You are special." Though he joked, Ukrop also stressed to parents the value of daily affirmation.
"Self-esteem starts at home. The way you build self-esteem is you shout praise and whisper criticism."
He crumpled and stepped on a 20-dollar bill and asked if children in the audience wanted it; many hands flew into the air. Though it had been weathered, Ukrop concurred, the bill still had its value.
"We make choices and things happen to us... You never lose your body, so to me it makes a lot of sense to take care of it."
The event recognized educational health videos created by high school students in Hanover, Goochland, Charles City, and New Kent Counties to be shown in elementary school classrooms.
Goochland Public Schools received the grand prize in the video competition for their entertaining submission. Their stylized video paid homage to comic books with a battle between the Fruit Rangers and their nemesis, the Fat-tastic Four, who tried to corrupt a girls' sleepover with unhealthy food to no avail.
The halls of Hanover High were lined with over 30 booths ranging from the American Heart Association and Hanover's Promise to the more physical Upward Youth Sports and Master Cho's Tae Kwon Do. The Bon Secours Care-A-Van offered free health screenings on-site.
Many youth jumped rope, did the electric slide, and competed on Dance Dance Revolution throughout the evening, staying active maybe without realizing it.
"My background is in sports. I was blessed with a wonderful family who emphasized exercise and health," Ukrop said off-stage. He was thankful to participate because "lots of these kids don't have these opportunities."
"A lot of people talk about obesity and healthy lifestyles, but they don't really know how to get there," said Andrea Kimmet, representing Tidewater Physical Therapy. "This is a means to an end."
As she manned the Smart Solutions Tutoring booth, one in a sea of many, Meghan Sheriff felt proud to take part in this children's initiative.
"You don't realize what a community has until you see everybody congregated on the spot," Sheriff said.
For additional information contact Randy Marcus at 804-786-2078 or 804-814-7117 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.