LANCASTER – A group of Lancaster youths are on a mission to shed pounds for various reasons.
For 14-year old Joseph Walker, it’s about appearance.
“I want to lose as much as possible and turn my weight into muscle,” says Joseph.
For 18-year-old Yolanda, it’s about health.
“I am trying to lose about 50 pounds at the most to get healthy,” says Yolanda.
Yolanda and Joseph are two of the first participants in the new Weight Loss Challenge created by the Healthy Empowered and Ready to Succeed (H.E.A.R.T.S.) organization.
The Weight Loss Challenge kicked off on September 24th as part of the City of Lancaster’s UNITE Program and aims to combat the obesity epidemic among children. The Antelope Valley reportedly has one of the highest mortality rates and cases of childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other serious diseases in the nation.
“Our goal is to promote healthy living and wellness in our youth ranging from ages 10 to 18,” said H.E.A.R.T.S. Representative Natalie Boddie.
The program sponsors 12 youths for a 12 week period. During this time, youths have access to a wellness coach to learn proper nutrition and guidance. Youths also take part in multiple healthy activities throughout the Antelope Valley, including bike riding, roller skating, jogging, and hiking. Youths weigh in periodically to track their progress, and their measurements are taken. At the end of the 12 weeks, organizers remain in contact with the youths for a one-year period or until they reach a healthy weight goal, providing them with group support, healthy self-esteem building, and continual guidance in making healthy food selections at home, at school or while dining out.
“If it works it’s incredible, because nothing seems to be working right now and obesity seems to be a wave sweeping this country,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “It should work if they stay with the buddy system and encourage each other… really all it takes is 30 minutes of walking every day.”
Youths had their first weigh in on September 24th. The next official weigh in is this coming Thursday.
The AV Times will be following the youths throughout the Weight loss Challenge and reporting on their progress.