Fitness challenge keeps youth health conscious
November 23, 2011
Staying healthy was the focus of a physical fitness challenge in the Janice Anderson Youth Services Facility, Friday.
Boys and girls raced each other in the center's gymnasium for friendly bragging rights as the facility's supervisors officiated the competition.
In groups of four, the youth rock-climbed, jumped-roped, hula-hooped and did sit ups among other physical activities.
"It was very exhausting," said James Jones, the winner on the boy's side.
Jones found the fitness course challenging to navigate with three other people racing near him.
The center is keeping up with federal mandates such as the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports that encourages children to remain active and live healthy lives.
"We have to do it," said Marshall Barnes, assistant director, who believes the youth don't spend enough time getting exercise. "With the high rate of diabetes and obesity … the main thing is keeping them healthy."
The fitness challenge is among several activities the center conducts to encourage physical exercise.
The facility also uses video games such as Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution to encourage children to be active.
"We try to do it in a fun way to keep them healthy," Sheila Martinez, facility director, said. "It was something simple but they enjoyed it and that's what we want."
Barnes said the center also distributes fruits and water to the children to encourage healthy eating.
"We enjoy helping them," Barnes said.
The youth facility is open Monday through Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m., 1 to 9 p.m. Fridays and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays.
Center officials say it's a safe and entertaining place for kids to go after school while their parents are still at work.
"They can hang out with their friends and receive help with school" said Martinez, who wants the center to be a safe haven for the youth. "It's perfect for the parents, perfect for the kids."
The facility has video games, television, basketball courts, healthy snack choices and the youth also has access to computer labs, lounges, snacks and tutoring.
The grade-range for the Anderson Center is from seventh to 12th grade and the supervisors said the kids work well together despite the age difference.
"When we come in this center we're Family," said Betina Long, target program assistant, "This is your second home and we want you to treat it like it's your first home."
Long, who is heading an initiative to build a greenhouse in the back of the center, is asking Families to donate 2,000 two liter bottles.
Long said the youth would be able to use the greenhouse to grow gardens and use the plants in community outreach activities.