By Susanne Reynolds
THOMASVILLE — Pre-K students at Hand-in-Hand Primary School are getting a healthy start.
With childhood obesity being the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, even more so than drug abuse and smoking, it is important for children to learn about health risks and getting into the habit of proper nutrition and having a routine exercise schedule.
The Thomasville YMCA and Hand-in-Hand teamed up on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to support healthy habits for their annual Healthy Habits Week observance. All the preschool classes attended each day.
The students took a field trip to Butler-Mason YMCA to exercise and have fun. The exercises included fitness routines and gymnastics.
Robin Shaver, assistant principal at Hand-In-Hand said, “We encourage movement and exercise to get our bodies fit for healthy living. The YMCA is always so eager to partner with us for special events for our school. It is so important that we stress to our children and their families to make exercise an essential part of their lives. We appreciate the YMCA and their staff for challenging our students during this healthy field trip.”
According to the Food Research and Action Center, obesity rates have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970s. About a quarter of 2-5 year olds and one-third of school-aged children are overweight or obese in the United States. The prevalence is also higher among children living in the southern region of the country.
Teachers at Hand-In-Hand are also teaching healthy eating habits within the classroom. They plan healthy snacks for their students before exercise.
“The field trip is fun and instructional for our pre-K students. We encourage healthy eating and exercise for a healthy body. A recipe is selected, an ingredient list is made and the class visits the grocery store, which was Publix this year. Students see fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and grains that they have been learning about at school,” said Shaver.
Childhood obesity causes a broad range of health problems that previously were not seen until adulthood. They include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. Psychological effects can also be seen, such as being prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression.
The American Heart Association recorded that excess weight at early ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona summed up the issue and said, “Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”
The Thomasville YMCA encourages the students to attend the “Fit Kids” program that is offered at Butler-Mason YMCA on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. until 4:45 p.m.. It is for ages five to 13.
Rachel Cooper, Thomasville YMCA “Fit Kids” director, said “With “Fit Kids” classes the ultimate goal is to instill in children’s self-confidence — that they can accomplish anything if they just try. We teach them that exercise can be fun and rewarding all at the same time.”
For more information on the YMCA’s programs, visit www.ymca-thomasville.org.
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.
By Susanne Reynolds
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