LANCASTER – The City of Lancaster, in conjunction with Antelope Valley Partners for Health, Kaiser Permanente, UCLA and Wal-Mart, Monday launched “Project Get Fit” in its five Wellness Homes.
The program targets childhood obesity problems by educating participants regarding proper fitness and nutrition, while engaging them in a six-week regimen toward better health and well-being.
“Project Get Fit” is structured to focus on school-aged children within the Lancaster School District.
“We must continue to take proactive steps to change the lives of our community’s children,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Childhood obesity is a serious problem plaguing our nation. We need to educate our children so that they grow into health-conscious, active adults.”
There are currently more than 80,000 children living in the Antelope Valley. A conservative estimate places the number of overweight and obese children throughout the Antelope Valley at nearly 35,000.
“Project Get Fit” aims to reduce childhood obesity by increasing physical activity and instructing residents on proper nutrition skills through the Lancaster Wellness Homes, which are located in five targeted areas in the City and cater to underserved groups in the community.
“Project Get Fit” is composed of three components which target nutrition and physical activity — group exercise, nutrition class, and Xbox 360 Kinects Fit activity time.
Each Wellness Home will facilitate a six-week program, which will meet three times a week and serve eight students per session. The weekly group exercise segment will include walking, yoga, and other group activities led by outside fitness experts from the community.
Nutrition classes will teach participants My Plate (formerly known as the Food Pyramid), how to read nutritional labels, and how to prepare healthy snacks and meals.
The Xbox 360 Kinects Fit activity time program includes a Body Test, which measures players’ BMI, and is administered and monitored by the Program Coordinator. The Kinects Fit program also allows players to set fitness goals.
“I must thank Wal-Mart and (manager) Roy Coombes for stepping up time and time again to support the City of Lancaster,” said Parris. “City partners like Wal-Mart play such an important role in the success of our programs. They also reinforce to the public their dedication and commitment to the community when they make vested contributions to the betterment of our citizens.”
The inclusion of the Xbox 360 Kinects Fit program in the overall approach to improving fitness derives from a growing trend called exergaming, which is short for exercise games.
The Kinects system specifically offers multi- and single-player games which include boxing, volleyball, kung fu, track and field, soccer, and more.
The goal is to have 280 students enrolled in “Project Get Fit” by June 2012. Program objectives include reducing students’ weight by 10% by the end of the six-week session; having each student meet at least three of the federal fitness standards after completing the program; increasing student self-esteem by 25 percent, based on pre/post tests; and instilling in all students proper nutritional dietary standards.
“The City of Lancaster and its partners are doing everything we can to battle this terrible obesity epidemic,” said Parris. “These children will form the societies of tomorrow and it is our onus to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to excel and thrive in life. Providing them with proper fitness and nutrition information is one of the greatest contributions we can make to their future.”
(Information via press release from the City of Lancaster.)