Kids need to get moving.
That’s the message behind a children’s health initiative that aims to promote fitness and nutrition among the younger set.
Introduced last year as a pilot project by Generali Worldwide, the Be Active, Eat Smart programme is running in several schools but organisers are looking to take it nation-wide.
‘We need to invest in our health from primary school,’ said Dr. Sook Yin, Medical Director of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, one of the supporters of the initiative.
Last week, the group launched an Adopt-a-School campaign urging the corporate community to get involved by sponsoring a Be Active, Eat Smart programme.
Companies can sponsor the programme at a private or government school for either a full or partial year.
Jennifer Paul O’Donnell, principal of St. Ignatius Catholic School, said students have embraced the programme since it was introduced last February.
‘It’s exciting. The kids like it and it’s changed their attitude.’
Working with health professionals and educators, the Be Active, Eat Smart programme includes information about nutrition and fitness as well as in-school aerobics sessions and specials events to get kids moving and learning about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating.
Dr. Yin said a major concern in Cayman – and globally – is the soaring rate of obesity.
In the United States, it’s estimated 17 per cent of children and adolescents are obese and millions more are overweight, putting them at risk of developing diabetes and other ailments.
‘In children ages six to 11 obesity has tripled in just 30 years,’ said Dr. Yin. ‘What’s more frightening is that we’re now using surgery to reduce obesity.’
In the US, 350 youth between ages 12 and 17 underwent gastric bypass surgery – or stomach stapling – in 2004 to lose weight.
Dr. Yin said it’s vital to instil healthy living habits at an early age to reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood, and to help build a healthier community.
‘We need to back this programme,’ she said. ‘If we invest in our children now, we will see the results 10 years from now.’
For more information about adopting a school or how your organisation can get involved in the Be Active, Be Smart programme, contact coordinator Jennifer Williams at [email protected] or contact Cayman Insurance Centre at 946-3930.