May 7, 2003 Pittsburgh PA -- May 7, 2003 was "Fun to be Fit" Day in Pittsburgh. The celebration comes in recognition of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield's partnership with the Pittsburgh Public School System to address childhood obesity and inactivity, and in commemoration of the 15th annual Project ACES (All Children Exercise Simultaneous).
"`Fun to be Fit' is an innovative health and physical education program that blends two highly researched programs, SPARK and FRESH, which are designed to reduce the risk of future heart disease by teaching children lifelong physical activity and nutrition habits," said Holly Shields of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and coordinator of the "Fun to be Fit" program. "Pittsburgh students receive the knowledge, skills and motivation they need to adopt healthy behaviors and lifestyles which lead to improved fitness, health, and quality of life."
On May 7 at 10 a.m., Project ACES was celebrated worldwide and Pittsburgh school students simultaneously engaged in physical fitness activities.
Administrators and staff from the Pittsburgh Public Schools were on hand at local elementary schools to kick-off the celebration. Students engaged in jumping rope, dancing, jogging, or some combination of aerobic exercise.
"Knowing children all over the world are exercising with them is a great motivator," said Shields. "Encouraging physical activity and fitness in a non-competitive way gives children of all abilities an opportunity to do their personal best and succeed."
Childhood obesity has become an epidemic. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle have manifested into one of the fastest growing health problems facing our country. The number of obese children and the incidence of obesity-related illnesses have skyrocketed in recent years. Focusing on prevention in pre-adolescent years is the most effective strategy in addressing obesity in children.
"The realization that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions threatens to be a primary driver of health care concerns for many years to come," said Aaron A. Walton, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. "Health experts and educators must focus on fighting obesity in the two places where children and adolescents can most easily be reached -- at school and at home."
No Child Left Behind
"The Board of Education is committed to leaving no child behind, physically as well as academically," said Dr. John Thompson, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools. "We fully understand the need to help students learn about the importance of developing healthy activities and nutrition. This program is now a major part of our health and physical education program for elementary students."
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