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STEP UP 4 KiDS Challenges Us All to Help Fight Childhood Obesity

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: Health & Fitness Issue: October 2015
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Photo courtesy Healthy LifeStarsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of American children are overweight or obese – a staggering statistic, considering the concomitant health issues and complications wrought by an unhealthy lifestyle.

The good news? It's entirely preventable, and local nonprofit Healthy LifeStars is starting a tidal wave of positive change in Arizona kids' lives.

“We want to help kids at a fairly young age and give them the tools they need to be able to make the right decisions, and how to properly set goals that they will take with them for the rest of their lives,” says Julie Frankel, executive for development and operations for the organization, which has extended its outreach efforts to children in Colorado and Nevada. To do this, the nonprofit partners with local schools and other organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs, The Salvation Army and the YMCA to provide nutrition and active lifestyle education and opportunities for school-age kids.

“With so many schools cutting PE classes, kids have got to be able to learn about these things and get outside and run around,” Frankel says. HealthyLifeStars has coordinated everything from informative hikes at McDowell Mountain Conservancy to “field days” for local schools. This month, they've expanded their scope to bring in the support of the larger community with the inaugural STEP UP 4 KiDS Challenge Week. Individuals can register to be part of teams that compete to see who can take the most steps and be the most active during the challenge week, October 12-18.

“The idea is really simple: Everyone already walks, whether it's from home, to school, to work, to groceries, plus [more] if you're active and run and hike and play soccer and play basketball, whatever,” Frankel says. “It's already part of your daily routine. The point is, let's make it fun and see... who can take the most steps during one week. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can participate.”

To celebrate the end of the challenge, Healthy LifeStars will host a celebration and awards ceremony on Wednesday, October 21, at the Arizona Biltmore Golf Club. The top 25 children who participated in the challenge and logged the most activity will get to attend the event for free with an accompanying adult. Others can purchase tickets to benefit the organization and bid on items and experiences in silent and live auctions. Pro golfer Tom Lehman and broadcast icon Lin Su Cooney will participate in the event.

To register for the challenge, visit healthylifestars.org/step-up-4-kids/. Registration ends this evening, but donations to Healthy LifeStars' mission can be made year-round.