ORLANDO (CityofOrlando.net) – Today, nearly one in three children are obese according to the American Heart Association. It is projected that by 2030, half of all adults living in the United States will also struggle with obesity. Research shows that in order for children to grow up to become healthy adults, healthy eating and lifestyle habits need to be developed at a young age.
The City of Orlando encourages its residents to do exactly that by creating easy, fun and affordable ways for children to eat healthy and stay fit.
More than 2,000 kids every year participate in Orlando’s After-School All-Stars program, a curriculum designed to promote healthy living, academic achievement and civic leadership. Orlando ASAS offers a free, transitional athletics program for middle school students year round. ASAS provides competitive leagues in baseball, basketball, flag football, volleyball and golf.
Orlando’s athletic programs play a big part in shaping healthy lives. The Recreation Division of Orlando offers quality recreational, fitness and educational facilities and programs. Orlando is home to more than 115 facilities including 113 city parks, 47 playgrounds, 17 recreation centers and eight After-School All-Star locations.
“Our athletics program puts us in a position that is light years ahead of other cities,” said Glen Providence, a youth development specialist for Parramore Kidz Zone.
Parramore Kidz Zone, better known as PKZ, is a program aimed at improving the quality of life in Orlando’s highest poverty, highest crime neighborhood that has helped more than 2,500 children so far. PKZ provides students with out-of-school care programs as well as comprehensive health and wellness programs. These programs include athletics, health care services, nutrition education, hands-on cooking demonstrations and regular BMI (Body Mass Index) readings to help monitor their progress.
Orlando is one of only 18 communities nationwide that have been designated as national leaders in advocating better childhood health and wellness.
In March 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama awarded the City of Orlando as having one of the nation’s most effective programs for addressing childhood obesity, as part of the White House’s Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties campaign. Orlando has since tied for the No. 1 spot for the nation’s most efficient community advocating children’s health.
“Our children are the future of our community and the City of Orlando is committed to ensuring happy, healthy futures for our youth,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “I am proud that our community is a national leader in this effort as we continue to work together to change our children’s lives and help them to lead healthier, physically active lifestyles.”