Brown YMCA program encourages heart health

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2009

About 60 students in the Selma School System will step up and get healthy through a program offered by the Claude C. Brown Branch of the YMCA and Bob Myers of State Farm Insurance.

Myers is working with John Solomon of Brown YMCA and local schools surrounding the Brown Y to provide each of the children with a pedometer kit furnished by State Farm. The program will begin April 6 at the Brown Y with a health check for each of the students selected by their schools.

For 10 weeks every Friday after the initial meeting, the students will check their logs and weigh in from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

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“We’ll challenge the schools to see which teams do the most steps overall,” Myers said.

At the end of the 10 weeks, the children will receive T-shirts, and the school that logs in the most steps will receive a gift of its selection.

The point of all this, said Myers, is that studies show African-Americans and Hispanics are increasing in population.

The African-American and Hispanic/Latino Health and Well-Being Collaborative, of which the Y is a participant, shows that African-Americans and Hispanics make up 30 percent of the U.S. population. By 2030, estimates are the population of African-Americans and Hispanics will increase to 40 percent of the U.S. population.

While these two ethnic groups are the largest non-white population in the U.S., they also are the two most unhealthy groups in the country, Solomon explained.

Many children in schools surrounding the Brown Y are from single-parent families or families where both parents work. The children come home after school, but the parents don’t get home until later, after work.

Solomon said many of the children either go home and have an older sibling present or go to a grandparent’s house. Many of those children sit in front of a television most of the time. They aren’t out and exercising. This competition is designed to get them up and moving.

The American Heart Society says to remain heart healthy, one must eat healthy meals and walk at least 10,000 steps per day.

“What we’re trying to do is get them to be active,” Solomon said.