Nearly 35 percent of children in Ohio are overweight or obese. The number rises to 38 percent in the Mahoning Valley and 43 percent in Trumbull County. The Mahoning Valley Healthy Kids Coalition, led by Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley, seeks to reduce those numbers through two free fitness and nutrition programs: the Fitness Lifestyle Challenge for youth 7-15 years old and “Fitness Fun” storytimes for preschoolers.
“Our goal is to prevent at-risk actions such as inactivity and poor eating habits to reduce childhood obesity and avoid the health issues that come with it, like diabetes and asthma,” said Melody Case, wellness and youth fitness specialist at Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley. “From preschoolers to teenagers, it’s never too early to learn about healthy lifestyle habits and our programs provide a fun way to do that – for free.”
The Fitness Lifestyle Challenge is a six-week program that promotes healthy fitness and eating habits, and safe, gradual weight loss. It incorporates fun, non-competitive activities such as obstacle courses, rope jumping, relays, games, swimming and circuit training. A session with a nutritionist is also included for parents.
The Fitness Lifestyle Challenge is free to students but requires registration. For more information and to register, visit www.akronchildrens.org/healthykids.
Upcoming 2015 class dates and locations include:
- Sept. 14-Oct. 23, Trumbull Family Fitness in Warren
- Sept. 15-Oct. 22, The Mayor Ralph A. Infante Wellness Center in Niles
- Oct. 26-Dec. 4, Youngstown Central YMCA in Youngstown
- Oct. 26-Dec. 4, The Davis Family YMCA in Boardman
“The Fitness Lifestyle Challenge is an effective way to get kids moving and learning on a regular basis, which is what’s needed to enact a lifestyle change,” said Case. “These sessions can make – and have made – such an incredible difference in kids’ lives. I encourage all parents in the community to sign up if their kids don’t embrace healthy behaviors – even if they’re not overweight.”
For younger children, “Fitness Fun” storytimes is a free program at libraries in Mahoning and Trumbull counties during select dates of the existing preschool storytime program. It helps children learn healthy habits early in a fun and interactive setting with activities and prizes. Healthcare specialists are also available to talk to parents and caregivers after the program about nutrition and exercise for their child.
The Mahoning Valley Healthy Kids Coalition seeks to create healthy lifestyles for children and includes the following organizations: Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley, Mahoning County District Board of Health, Trumbull County Health Department, Junior League of Youngstown, Warren-Trumbull County Public Library, and the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.
The program is made possible by the William Swanston Charitable Fund, a supporting organization of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.
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