Health Fest Brings Fun, Fitness Together

FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 15, 2010) – Long before first lady Michelle Obama began the crusade against childhood obesity, Fort Lee Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted a children’s health fair with activities and resources to commence or continue the quest for health and fitness.

On Sept. 11, the third annual Kids’ Health Fest offered activities for youth and resources for parents at the Post Field House.

Diana Martinez, recreation specialist and one of the event’s organizers said the health fest is a way for FMWR to offer different and fun activities for children and to help them stay active and healthy.

“Every year we try to offer playful and fun ways to learn to be fit and maintain a healthy way of life,” Martinez said. “This is a great opportunity for families to be involved together in learning all they can about the resources available on post and in the community.”

To kick off the event, participants ran or walked one mile and performed exercises at stations along the track. Twelve-year-old Abigail Finn took part in the walk-run. She’s been building her endurance with her father Capt. Gregory Finn, an instructor for the Basic Officer Leader Course at the Army Logistics University.

Finn, a long distance runner, said fitness is a way he keeps close with his children.

“I look for ways to stay bonded with my children,” Finn said. “I wanted to share my love of running with Abigail and improve her fitness and health.”

The family spends their evenings riding bikes to the track outside the Post Field House. Finn helps Abigail build her endurance while mom, Joy, walks the track.

More than 150 participants browsed the booths offering information about healthy snacks, after-school and fitness programs, and fun ways to stay fit. Kenner Army Health Clinic offered body mass indexing and a hands-on exhibit about proper hand washing while the Fort Lee Commissary offered fruits and water as a healthy snack option. Other vendors included American Family Fitness, which offers child friendly fitness activities at many of its locations, including the Colonial Heights facility, and the YMCA.

Today’s children face a lot of challenges, according to national health reports including a battle with the bulge. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine theorizes the current generation of Americans may have a shorter lifespan than their parents. According to a report written by a White House task force on childhood obesity, one in every three children aged two to 19 is overweight or obese. The study claims what and where we eat are contributing factors as well as how we spend our free time. Americans eat more fast-food, drink more sugar-sweetened beverages and eat outside the home more often than they eat in the home.

Earlier this year, first lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move campaign. The initiative undertakes the goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity. The campaign focuses on four pillars: empowering parents and caregivers, providing healthy foods in schools, improving access to healthy, affordable food, and finally an increase in physical activities. The Let’s Move’s Web site provides information and resources for parents, children, school administrators and teachers at www.letsmove.gov.