As part of our month-long Fit Kids February initiative, we are spotlighting New Yorkers who are helping kids stay active. This week's honoree brings the benefits of healthy eating and exercise to elementary schools across the city. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Students are learning healthier habits every week thanks to Robert Oliver.
Ten years ago, he quit the world of finance and headed back to elementary school.
“I was working on Wall Street, the bell rings at 4 o’clock, and I remember Mondays and Wednesdays, I looked forward to the 5:30 practice," Oliver said. "I realized the most fun part of my day was coaching kids on the soccer field as a volunteer."
So Robert founded the non-profit "Fitness and Nutrition for Kids." FAN4Kids introduces healthy eating and exercise to classrooms in low-income neighborhoods.
"Early in the morning, the first thing they do is, they go to the nearest bodega or the nearest grocery store, and what do they purchase? A bag of chips and a sugary drink," said Ramona Duran, principal of P.S. 157 in the Bronx.
FAN4Kids looks to end bad habits through educating students and their families. Re-enforcing the need to stay fit and active is changing behavior for the better.
"My mom would like to go to the park, and I would like to stay home playing my video games," said Jason Perez, a student at P.S. 157. "But now, I like hiking, I like going to the park."
"Before, all I used to do at 6 o' clock was just sit there eating junk food," said Rokhaya Seck, a student at P.S. 157 in the Bronx. 'Now, I usually get up at 6 o' clock and do exercise."
The program is free. The benefits are priceless.
"They are now asking for things that we consider healthy," Duran said. "It gives them self-esteem. It gives them confidence. They feel empowered."
"I enjoy the way I feel every single day, from getting my runs in or playing a sport, eating well," Oliver said. "It's a just feeling that everybody should have access to, and the issue of poor health is a very, very correctable thing."
So, for instilling healthy lessons that hopefully last a lifetime, Robert Oliver is the latest New Yorker of the Week.