SOURCE: World Fit

World Fit

April 25, 2011 12:20 ET

20,000 Middle School Students Lace up Sneakers for World Fit Walk

Second Annual Walk Participation Triples 2010 Numbers

MIAMI, FL--(Marketwire - Apr 25, 2011) - In April and May of 2011, 20 thousand middle school students across the US will be celebrating an important milestone. These students will be reaching for the Gold as they wrap up the second annual World Fit Walk, inspired by local Olympic athletes, with a program that promotes a culture of health and fitness and combats childhood obesity.

"World Fit has the right combination of fitness and friendly competition that motivates students to want to get involved," says three-time Olympic medalist, Gary Hall Senior and Co-Founder of World Fit. "Engaging the Olympians inspires students to push themselves and ignites a competitive spirit to achieve their goals."

World Fit students participate in a 6-week daily walking program with a goal for 10 miles per week. Students log the number of miles walked daily on the website and at the end of the 6-week period, they are awarded medals and certificates for reaching milestones.

This year, nearly 50 schools, 100 Olympians and up to 20,000 students all over the country will be walking to reverse the effects of obesity. Since last year's walk, World Fit has gained support both nationally and globally from The US Congress, International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United State Olympic Committee (USOC). In 2010, the US Congress unanimously passed a Resolution in support of the World Fit program. This month, the IOC selected World Fit for the Sport for All Patronage Award. World Fit is an officially licensed program of the USOC.

With Olympians and Paralympians as mentors, World Fit pairs the athletes with schools to inspire their students about the importance of health, fitness and Olympic values of perseverance, respect and fair play. By providing a community-based, school exercise initiative, World Fit is able to achieve its mission, while also unifying Olympians and promoting Olympic values worldwide.

Obesity rates still affect millions of lives and World Fit continues to do its part to battle childhood obesity.

In 2010 World Fit had 17 schools, 15 Olympians and just over 7,000 students who participated in the Walk, logging in a combined 770,000 miles over the six-week period.

Hall is the co-creator of World Fit, an initiative of the U.S. Olympians Association. Developed by U.S. Olympians and Paralympians -- athletes with physical disabilities -- World Fit encourages middle school students to walk at least 60 miles in six weeks, a time period that typically starts after spring break.

In each community, the program is supervised by a World Fit Leader; a volunteer who identifies potential schools, and works as a liaison between the school and World Fit.

"This is a program that can easily complement any school's fitness program," Hall says. "Our athletes remain linked with the school as long as they are able to do so. We want to continue the team spirit and the friendly competition. But most importantly, walking is a first step on the path toward fitness, improved academics and increased well-being."

About Gary Hall Sr.
Executive Director, World Fit

Gary Hall showed an aptitude for achievement at an early age. He graduated with honors from Indiana University, after which he earned his medical degree and became an ophthalmologist. But to the public, Hall is perhaps best known as a three-time Olympic medalist. He won silver medals in swimming in 1968 and 1972; bronze in 1976. During his career he held 10 World records in four different events. His greatest honor was being selected to be the flag bearer in the 1976 Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies. The quest for metal must glitter in the family tree. Hall's son, Gary Hall Jr., also a swimmer with type I diabetes, has won 10 Olympic medals (five gold). Today Hall Sr., in addition to running World Fit, coaches Olympic hopefuls and other enthusiasts in swimming through his Race Club organization.

Since 2009, Hall has set his sights on making World Fit one of the premier fitness-incentive programs for students. An initiative of the U.S. Olympians Association, World Fit encourages teams of students to walk 60 miles in six weeks with motivation from Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

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