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Youth enjoy a competitive game of basketball, at the Fort Stewart Youth Center, May 13. Each take turns practicing their jump shots while improving their ball handling skills.

FORT STEWART, Ga. - Many adults understand that physical activity is essential to living a healthy lifestyle; however do youth recognize the importance of staying active' According to www.letsmove.gov, a comprehensive initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama designed to solve the problem of childhood obesity; increasing physical activity can be simple and fun.

First Lady Michelle Obama was quoted by letsmove.gov as saying, "The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake."

Childhood obesity rates in America have tripled and nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese according to the site.

So how did our youth get here'

Thirty years ago most children kept a healthy weight by walking to school, playing outside for hours, running around during recess. Today, our lifestyles are different with texting, computers, gaming and watching more television and our kids have paid the price for eating on the run and less exercise.

"Fort Stewart youth center is a place where youth can learn more about healthy eating and they can enjoy exercise," said Fort Stewart Youth Center assistant director Karen Thomas. "Healthy Habits, a course offered at the center, teaches youth lifelong skills that promote well being. A variety of our activities are to keep youth happy and active, so they won't become at risk for negative behaviors."

Twelve-year-old Morgan Cody and 11-year-old Ayanna Smith were playing a fierce game of air hockey at the Fort Stewart Youth Center.

"Exercise is important so you will not become obese," Cody said.

"I come here to play air hockey, it's fun and gives you a workout," Smith said.

"It's important to stay physically fit because you never know what challenges lie ahead in life," said 12-year-old Kevin Bartholomew. "I'm a future NBA star with the Miami Heat, so I need to practice my skills."

Bartholomew, along with several other youth center members were found practicing their jump shots in the youth center gymnasium, May 13.

Physical activity is a key component to living a healthy lifestyle, according to letsmove.gov.

Children need a minimum of 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.

"Healthy eating and exercise is important because of your health," Thomas said. "If you don't practice eating healthy and exercising you can be at risk for diabetes, stroke, or heart attack."

For more information about the youth center and how to register your child, contact Parent Central Services at 912-767-2312 at Stewart and 912-315-5425 at Hunter.

Page last updated Thu May 19th, 2011 at 14:20