Ozark kids health fair promotes better habits early
October 2, 2010
by Ebony Horton
OZARK - Six-year-old TJ Andrews estimated it had been about "24 years" since he started implementing activities to promote wise eating habits and exercise.
While his math was few years off, teachers at Thompkins Early Childhood Center in Ozark did agree that TJ and the other kindergarteners have started early this year learning the basics of their bodies and the necessary habits that help curb - and avoid - childhood obesity.
The students participated Friday in the school's seventh annual community health fair, which involved Carroll High School career students and community health workers coming to the school to teach the kids more about blood, hearts, lungs, teeth and other bones.
Alabama ranked the sixth highest in childhood obesity rates among children ages 10 to 17 (36.1 percent) and second highest behind Mississippi in adult obesity rates (31.2 percent), according to the nonprofit group,Trust for America's Health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state ranked as the fourth largest between years 1985 and 2009.
Porterfield said she believed the key to being healthy in adulthood was learning how to be healthy at an early age.
"The same way we teach the basics of other subjects in education, it's very important for teachers to start showing the kids at an early age how to take care of their bodies. We owe it to the kids to make that happen," Porterfield said.
"Here, we already have something called Wellness Wednesdays where we especially encourage healthy habits, but every day we find some way to incorporate the importance of health in with the rest of the curriculum."
"At this age if you link something fun with their health, then it may help them retain the information longer," she said.
"We want them to make smart choices, so we try to either introduce or continue to encourage lots of fruits and vegetables," she said.
Six-year-old Mattie Grace Heath said she is doing more pushups and eating more fruit in order to remember to stay healthy.
"It gives us exercise," she said.
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