‘We Can’ program prepares kids with healthy habits for life | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘We Can’ program prepares kids with healthy habits for life

Roseann Keegan

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders in South Lake Tahoe and Zephyr Cove will soon embark on nine-week program that aims to create healthy habits to last a lifetime.

The “We Can!” program, designed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focuses on healthy food choices, physical activity, emotional well being and alternatives to television and computer games.

Now in its third year locally, Barton Health is presenting the program in conjunction with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, the Boys and Girls Club of South Lake Tahoe, the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department and El Dorado Public Health.

During the nine-week program, youngsters will take on a new health challenge each week. The first week begins with drinking two glasses of water per day. By week nine, the challenge is to reduce screen time to two hours per day or less.

Participants will also be able to present their program booklet once a week at the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Complex and the Kahle Community Center to swim, ice skate, play hoops and climb the rock wall for free.

“The idea is that by doing these things, they will be developing healthy habits,” said Monica Sciuto, director of marketing and public relations at Barton Health. “At the fourth, fifth and sixth grade, what they do at that time will determine their (future) habits. It is a transitional timeframe for kids.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.

The prevalence of obesity among children age 6 to 11 has increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. Obesity among adolescents age 12 to 19 has increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent.

El Dorado Public Health will distribute the We Can program to families of children determined to be at-risk for obesity or in need of help to work toward healthy goals.

Lake Tahoe Unified will distribute the challenge booklets to students in the upcoming weeks, while the Boys and Girls Club will include the challenge as part of its summer program. The booklets will also be distributed at Zephyr Cove Elementary School in Douglas County.

Kahle Community Center will also act as a distribution point for the booklets, and the center will sponsor a summer-long “walk a marathon” challenge that encourages children of all ages to walk the distance of a marathon during summer break.

The Lake Tahoe Marathon and South Lake Tahoe Optimist Club are also offering the Timber Wolf Marathon Challenge. Children through age 12 run or walk one mile at a time, until the first 25 miles of a marathon have been completed. The final 1.2 miles will be completed at 2 p.m. Sept. 25 near the finish line of the Lake Tahoe Marathon.

There is no entry fee and all who finish will receive a medal.

For the next nine weeks, the Tribune will detail the weekly challenges and provide healthy tips for people of all ages.

For more information about the We Can program, visit http://www.wecansouthlaketahoe.com.

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