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Training Today for a Healthier Tomorrow
Obesity is a leading health problem among Americans in the United States. Recently, obesity has turned into an out-of-control epidemic that not only affects adults, but children as well. In order to address this issue, the Institute of African American Health in conjunction with Leon County Officials, Schools, and Physicians have launched Project H.E.A.L.T.H: A pilot study to prevent obesity and diabetes in children and adolescents.
Project H.E.A.L.T.H. (Health Education and Life Transforming Habits) was established in January 2004 for the purposes of decreasing obesity, educating parents and children about the implications of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, encouraging the prevention and early detection of obesity-related health problems, as well as promoting healthy living through proper diet and exercise. Our four target schools for the 2005-2006 school year are FAMU DRS, Leonard-Wesson Elementary School, Nims Middle School, and Rickards High School.
Project H.E.A.L.T.H. is a five-year research study that will monitor the health status of selected children and adolescents in Leon County, Florida. The focus of the project is the development of good health habits, which, for most students will result in their having to modify their diets, engage in more physical activity or, if diagnosed, follow the direction of their personal physician more closely. The project is open to all participants, regardless of race or ethnic background who complete the enclosed survey. Also, students do not have to be overweight or at risk for diabetes to participate in the program. However, additional focus will be given to those who are later determined to either have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, are overweight, or suffer from high blood pressure. Participation is voluntary and regular training/instructional session will be held on each campus or at designated community facilities at times that do not distract from the activities of the regular school day.
In addition, we plan to initiate a SWAT team at each of our participating schools. SWAT stands for Students With Advanced Training in Health. The purpose of the SWAT Team is to help our students not only understand the importance of being healthy, but also really become excited about taking charge of their life. In turn, we are confident that our participants will become healthier and more productive citizens who are capable of making good choices.
Students who participate in the program will have an opportunity to win bicycles, get free movie passes, t-shirts, CDs, discounts to a variety of local businesses/restaurants, as well as participate in fun physical activities such as bowling and roller skating. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with county and city officials throughout the program.
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