Patti Simanski wants to help the region’s youth conquer obesity one step at a time.
Simanski, a weight-management consultant hoping to start a youth fitness nonprofit in Windber, is organizing an obesity “walk out” on Graham Avenue on May 18.
She told Windber Area school officials on Tuesday that she hopes the 2-mile walk will be the first of many events aimed at increasing wellness education for local kids.
“Obesity is an epidemic today,” Simanski said, noting that oftentimes children and their families turn to fast food instead of healthy alternatives.
The result, she said, is a generation at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease, and children who often have low self-confidence.
“Part of the goal is breaking down barriers, showing these kids it’s OK to exercise,” Simanski said.
Simanski is conducting an exercise program at Windber schools, Windber Superintendent Rick Huffman said.
The classes have been underway for the past few weeks.
Simanski said she is seeing a mindset difference with many of the students.
“They’re excited for the (walk out),” Simanski said, suggesting many wouldn’t have had the confidence to go through with it before.
Children and parents are invited to attend. A $10 pre-registration fee ($15 for same day) includes a T-shirt for participants.
Simanski said she is in the process of starting a nonprofit called “All About the Kids Fitness” and said event proceeds will go toward her effort to open a youth-geared fitness center in the borough with age-appropriate exercise equipment and a healthy snack bar.
A fund has already been set up at First National Bank’s Windber branch, she said.
David Hurst covers Windber for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.
• In 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
• Youth who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as poor self-esteem.
• Percentage of children ages 6–11 in the United States who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention