Olivia McClure, Hebert, Lanette G. | 3/24/2015 10:00:02 PM
News Release Distributed 03/24/15
POLLOCK, La. – Eating right and regular exercise are critical to a healthy lifestyle. But a third component — family involvement — is just as important, children and parents learned at Louisiana 4-H’s Food and Fitness Camp on March 21 and 22.
Thirty-five families attended the camp, where joint and separate sessions were held for children and their parents, said Lanette Hebert, 4-H coordinator for the LSU AgCenter Southwest Region.
The camp is supported by a grant from the National 4-H Council and the Walmart Foundation Youth Voice: Youth Choice program, which emphasizes “teens as teachers,” Hebert said. Members of the 4-H Food and Fitness Board, which is made up of 23 teens from around Louisiana, planned and directed camp activities.
One focus of the camp was being intentional about health habits, Hebert said, which requires planning. Parents at the camp learned about preparing healthy menus and shopping lists and setting aside time to cook at home and exercise as a family.
Meanwhile, children rotated through sessions where they learned how to properly stretch and fun ways to exercise. During a break, campers had a chance to make smoothie snack drinks on a specially equipped bicycle in which pedaling powered a blender.
Doing 60 minutes of physical activity daily “gets your heart pumped,” said 9-year-old Shilo Powell, of Bossier Parish. And it doesn’t have to be boring — the campers saw how to turn exercise into games, like timing how fast they could do 10 pushups.
“You can do different exercises,” said Janell Howard, 9, of St. Martin Parish. “They don’t have to be the same. You can make up your own.”
Janell said she also plans to eat less junk food and limit herself to one snack a day.
Her mother, Ebony Martin, said she realized the importance of being a role model. Although she’ll have to make extra time to get educated on topics like portion sizes and to exercise together, Martin said she knows “seeing Mom do more” will motivate her daughter.
Last year, the Food and Fitness Board shifted the focus of the camp from only children to families, said board president Tabitha Leonards, 17, of Acadia Parish.
“Parents are vital,” she said. “They control decisions about food and go shopping.”
By getting the whole family involved, children and parents can encourage each other. Knowing they aren’t alone is key to success, Leonards said.
“Getting fit isn’t going to the gym and doing these crazy workouts every day — it’s making small changes and having people encourage you,” Leonards said. “It helps their confidence. It helps them growing up and knowing they can become a leader.”