The national epidemic of childhood obesity has lead health officials to suggest that, without change, children today are at risk of becoming the first generation of Americans to have a lower life expectancy than their own parents. Power Up Kidz is a fitness and nutrition program designed specifically to teach children, ages 8-12, who are underactive and/or overweight to develop healthy habits. The focus is on teaching children to make healthy food choices and incorporate regular exercise into their daily routine.
“We try to be as creative as possible to show the whole picture,” said program director Nick Jones.
Classes are held at the Healthpark and meet twice a week for a four-week period. Space is limited to 12 children per session to help staff develop personal relationships with each child, and focus on their individual health needs. Each session includes education on topics such as calorie balance, portion control, limiting sugary beverages, family meals, etc., as well as 40 minutes of organized exercise or structured play.
Jones says the activities focus on all components of fitness. “We teach them body weight exercises and fitness games they can do at home. We also have a session in the pool and show them running routines and interval exercises.”
Charles Pettigrew (pictured above) is the trainer for the program. Owensboro Health nutritionists and pediatricians also speak to the participants, as well as “fitness celebrities” from Owensboro. Former OCHS and Duke basketball star Becca Greenwell spoke to the class in one session, Jones said.
Parents of the participants are also engaged in the program to help them create a home environment that ensures their children make healthy choices.
The program is partly funded by a grant received from CSX Transportation through the Owensboro Health Foundation. “We are most grateful to CSX for this donation to improve the health of our community,” said Pat Serey, executive director of the Owensboro Health Foundation.
The next Power Up Kidz session will start in January. For more information on how to join Power Up Kidz contact Nick Jones at [email protected] or (270) 688-5433.