Students Raise Childhood Obesity IssueNov 9th, 2010 | Category: Feature
In response to startling statistics about childhood obesity, Jack Bennett, DPT, MEd, CSCS assistant professor of physical therapy, developed “Healthology of Children,” a University Seminar course designed to educate students on how to promote and improve the physical well-being of American children.
According to the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 16.9 percent of children and adolescents, ages of 2 – 19, are obese, an increase of more than 11 percent since the 1976-1980 survey. To help address the negative trend, Bennett’s students will host a children’s health fair and a public forum.
The Childhood Health and Wellness Fair, scheduled for Nov. 13 at Wilkinson Elementary School in St. Louis, will feature a series of games designed to promote physical activity. The educational forum will take place 7-8:15 p.m. on Nov. 30 in the University Auditorium and features local experts in education, psychiatry and athletics.
“When I was putting the course together, I knew that I wanted to do the public forum but I didn’t expect to do the children’s fair,” Bennett said. “The students put that whole thing together and I think it’s a great opportunity for Maryville to get in the mix of showing how important it is to get kids healthy and to keep them healthy.”
Childhood Health and Wellness Fair
For the fair, Bennett’s students designed a seven-station course based on the Olympic Heptathlon, where each station features an activity that strengthens a specific skill. At one station, children will practice balance while walking on stilts made of coffee cans and rope; at another station they can practice throwing by tossing small bean bags at a clown face target.
Other stations will focus on dancing, stretching, trivia, the Simon Says game and an obstacle course. Children will also have a chance to have their pictures taken with Fredbird of the St. Louis Cardinals, and will receive grab bags filled with healthy treats.
The public forum will feature presentations that address environmental and social factors affecting childhood obesity. Students, along with a panel of experts, will discuss the influence of parents, schools, government, media and the community on childhood obesity and the child’s individual responsibility to improve his or her health.
Scheduled to appear on the panel are a child psychiatrist, a physical education professor, a school administrator and Solomon Alexander, director of the St. Louis Sports Commission.
“With both of our community activities, we’re providing educational resources and trying to educate parents and children on how to modify behaviors,” Bennett said. “We’d like for parents, teachers, government, business, media, and the community to be more involved in our kid’s development.”
Article by Amiee Shank