Fit Kids: Company Works to Break Obesity Pattern with Diet, Exercise Plans

As Time Warner Cable News continues its month-long series on children's health and fitness, reporter Erin Clarke takes a look at ActivePlus NYC, a company aimed at combating childhood obesity.

It looks like an ordinary basketball practice, except Esperanza Preparatory Academy in Harlem doesn't have sports.

"That's something that was always in me that I was wishing for," said Cristian Nivar, an eighth grader.

About six months ago the school began working with ActivePlus NYC, an organization started by two former college athletes volunteering their time on a mission to reduce childhood obesity.

"We're doing this because most New York City schools they cut physical education programs leaving recess as the only option for physical activity," said ActivePlus NYC CEO Tarik Kitson.

Kitson and his partner Miguel Roxas coach kids in just about any sport and also use their knowledge to teach the proper way to exercise and how to work out even if you don't have traditional fitness equipment, space or a lot of time.

"We're introducing how to do body weight squats, body weight push ups and just also introducing stretching routines," Roxas said.

They're also drilling the message home that what goes into your body is just as important as improving your skills. 

"I've learned that you can't eat junk food. You gotta put all of that aside and get to the vegetables and fruits," said Nelson Montaldo, an eighth grader.

 

"The food pyramid. I try to eat like that. I do prefer like a banana over candy. It's healthy it keeps my body strong," said Kenyon Watkins, an eighth grader.

The program has even had an effect on something the kids' coaches and especially their teachers didn't expect but welcome.

"Since the program, a lot of them have been in leadership positions now with the school and we have seen a big change in behavior," said Leroy Andino, an ELA teacher at the school.

The students are also doing better in class.

"A lot of the times students have come in with failing grades, low attendance. I've so many of them lift each other up and keep each other on track in school," said Jessica Heideman, an English teacher at the school.

And if they're not doing well academically the students can't play sports.

So ActivePlus NYC is helping in more ways than one, motivating these kids to hit the books and be healthy.

For more information, visit activeplusnyc.org.

During the month of February, Time Warner Cable News is committed to informing our viewers of the sometimes alarming trends facing our kids' health as well as provide helpful tips for busy parents.  Get more information on Fit Kids February, including the Fit Kids Challenge, healthy shopping suggestions and ways you can get involved to help make you and your children healthier! 

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