School days may be over for students from Richardson Montessori Academy in Tampa, Florida, but that doesn't mean the healthy habits students have learned will be soon forgotten. The Tampa Tribune reports this is because students here left school with backpacks filled with fun activities to keep them active all summer.
According to the source, when summer rolls around most students tend to fall back into lazy routines - watching more TV and engaging in outdoor play
less frequently. However, the Healthy KIDZ program is aiming to prevent this from happening, especially as childhood obesity is still a major problem in America. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 17 percent of children in America aged 2 to 19 are obese.
Nikki Ross-Inda, organizer of the Healthy KIDZ program in the Tampa area, told the news outlet going from being active every day to having ample free time can cause a lot of problems for students and their overall health.
"It's dangerous during the school year to have all these activities, and during the summer to let it go," Ross-Inda told the news outlet. "It's important you keep some kind of schedule, some kind of routine."
Ross-Inda visited students from Richardson Montessori Academy to talk about staying active over the summer and making sure to eat plenty of fresh produce in their down time. Each child also received a backpack containing a jump rope, hula hoop and a beach ball to play with during summer break.
School principal Tommie Brumfield also spoke during the assembly, telling students to enjoy the fresh air and refrain from spending too much time in the house.
"Don't exercise your thumbs all summer or just stare at the television," Brumfield told the students, according to the news outlet. "But get out there and exercise and encourage your parents to go with you."
The message seemed to resonate with some of the students, as first-grader Noah Bryant told the newspaper he has tried to get his parents to exercise with him after learning about how important it is. He also educates them on what food groups are important to eat.
"I tell my mom and dad to walk every day and eat fruits and vegetables so they can be healthy like me," Bryant told the news outlet. "I play football and to get bigger, you need fruits and vegetables."
Eating right and exercising is crucial in helping healthy kids
grow into healthy adults. Parents can encourage physical activity by bringing them to the park to use commercial playground equipment
to get in the 60 minutes of exercise as recommended by the Let's Move! initiative.