Hoops for Kids helping to keep students healthy

09/09/2009

GREEN BAY — Getting more children to embrace physical activity is a key factor in reducing the nation’s near-epidemic childhood obesity cases, local health experts say.

Hooked on Hooping – a local organization dedicated to the promotion of physical fitness through hula hooping – and Bellin Health are working to encourage area school children to get active and physically fit during the first annual Hoops for Kids.

The Hoops for Kids community health initiative, related to Wednesday’s World Hoop Day celebrations, will expose children at Chappell and Kennedy elementary schools in Green Bay to the fun of hooping as a form of exercise and a way to illustrate the importance of physical fitness. The program seeks to donate quality hoops to area schools to promote physical activity before school, during recess and after school.

Hooked on Hooping experts and Bellin representatives will join Chappell students at 11 a.m. on Thursday and Kennedy students at 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. for hooping sessions.

“With more than two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese and the alarming rise of childhood obesity in the U.S., any initiative or partnership that we can take part in that exposes kids to the benefits of healthy and active living is worth it,” said Amy St. Laurent, director, Family Programs & Services, Bellin Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11.

Hooping offers many benefits that can reduce such alarming statistics, said Mary Pulak, co-founder, Hooked on Hooping.

“Hooping burns 100 calories in 10 minutes, helps build strong and healthy core muscles, decreases middle fat, and is a fun activity for kids and adults alike,” she said. “It’s a great way to help kids form physical fitness habits while they’re still at a very malleable age.”

St. Laurent echoed those thoughts.

“It’s a challenge to reach kids regarding health habits and lifestyles when they’re already in high school,” she said. “But with elementary school kids, you can teach them these things – hooping, an appreciation of physical fitness – while they’re still very impressionable. These are lifestyle changes that will lead them to a healthier, longer life.”