Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Greater Cincinnati answering pledge

Children's health

We can have an enormous impact on our children's health if we simply take action. Here are inspiring examples of groups and individuals who signed our Join Up pledge to make a fitness or nutrition change that will benefit children.

To make your own pledge, fill out this form.

• Cincinnati Public Schools' Food Services Department:

Food services supervisor Pat Selmeier wrote to say her department is pledging to do more to educate all Cincinnati Public food services employees on nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle issues. They'll learn more about portion control, food label information, daily requirements and other nutritional needs.

In addition, the department will ask all 375 employees to pledge to make one change toward a healthier lifestyle.

"Many of our food services employees are also our students' parents and grandparents," the director says. "By teaching them practical tips about nutrition and exercise, we can help them teach their children."

• M.E. Lyons YMCA, Anderson Township:

The M.E. Lyons YMCA is pledging to offer fitness programs for younger clients. It has opened its cardiovascular center to children ages 9-12 when they are accompanied by a parent. The children are now permitted to use exercise bicycles, treadmills and other fitness machines.

The goal is to teach them how to exercise correctly, and also to encourage family togetherness in fitness activities.

"The publicity about obesity has encouraged people to take more interest in fitness," says fitness counselor Alwilda Braun. "We are definitely seeing it younger and younger in children - sometimes we're tempted to ask for their birth certificates!"

Alesia Jolevski jogs to keep up with her 5-year-old son, Alexander.
(Enquirer photo/TONY JONES)
• Alesia Jolevski, Covedale:

Jolevski pledges to devote time daily to running or walking with son Alexander, 5, as he bikes to the nearby park. "I enjoy activity, and I'm making it a part of his life, too," she says. "When I get home from work, I love to stay home - I don't want to get back in the car and go to a gym. This way, we can just open the front door and go out and be active."

For his part, Alexander will only say that he's faster.

• Fourth Street Elementary School, Newport:

Teachers Eric Ball, Bob Bruno, Vicki Lane, Amelia Powers and Melissa Turner are pledging to integrate at least 30 minutes of physical activity into their classrooms daily and to stress good health in their instruction. They'll put to use equipment their school received through a United Dairy Council grant, and are asking their students to track their physical activity every day.

"If you call something a game, kids will do it," says Amelia Powers. "For example, in math we do a game we call 'Sums in Motion.' Students march in place and I give them a math problem. If the answer is six, then we'll do six jumping jacks. Our goal is to integrate activity into every part of the curriculum."

• Dr. Sue Weinstein, physician and executive director, Discover Health, a nonprofit health education organization:

"On weekends, I'm going to encourage my teenage daughters to commit to a half-hour of being outdoors and moving," Dr. Weinstein says. "My daughters are very active, but without the structure of an organized sport, sometimes it's easy to forget about doing informal physical activity on weekends."

• Bevis Elementary School, Northwest Local School District:

Just about everybody at Bevis Elementary has gotten involved in the Join Up pledge. Students have committed to doing at least one lap on the playground walking trail Monday through Thursday and spending the entire recess walking on Friday. Physical education teacher Dawn Backus is adding interval running to all her classes, and the PTA is offering a family nutrition and fitness night for parents.

• St. Ignatius Loyola School, Monfort Heights:

Physical fitness is catching fire at St. Ignatius, where staff members have begun a new program called Wildcats on the Move. Students can walk or roll their wheelchairs around the school's new half-mile paved path, racking up statistics for the Mileage Club. Students will be recognized for 10, 50 and 100-mile records.

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