PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwired - Apr 22, 2013) - Students from 9 elementary and middle schools have signed up for World Fit, a program whose aim is to eradicate childhood obesity and improve children's health by encouraging fitness activities.
With involvement and encouragement from local Olympian/Paralympians, World Fit brings their nationwide 40-day walking and exercise challenge to schools in Philadelphia.
Students, along with a buddy and their teachers, will walk on a measured path near or on campus every day for six weeks (April 22 to May 31). Up to 600 kids at each school will be walking daily starting on April 22, 2013.
Students will log their miles on the World Fit website to compete for the title of fittest school in their community, state, and nation. During the challenge, each school is paired with local Olympians or Paralympians who takes the school under his or her wing. The athletes serve as mentors and role models, teaching students the importance of lifelong fitness and the Olympic values of perseverance, respect, and fair play that will help guide them through their lives.
Students can earn extra miles by engaging in sports other than walking. And because miles are rewarded for any type of activity, students in wheelchairs or on crutches can participate too.
Those who walk at least 60 miles in six-weeks receive certificates of achievement and top students receive medals presented during the final ceremonies. (Non-walking activities use other benchmarks so everyone has a chance to compete.)
Philadelphia Olympians Renee Hykel* (rowing, silver medal) and Paralympian Derek Arneaud (soccer) will serve as school coordinators, motivators and influencers for the students.
"As a three-time Olympic medalist, I know how important it is to have a clear goal. As a doctor, I understand the health benefits -- both mentally and physically -- of achieving that goal," says Gary Hall, Sr., World Fit's founder. "The World Fit challenge is an excellent way to place an easy-to-use and practical routine in children's hands, and they enjoy the fun and camaraderie of the activity," says Bettyann Creighton, Director of Health, Safety and Physical Education for the school district.
About World Fit
World Fit, a 501(c) (3) started in 2006, is a nationwide exercise program in 80 schools involving 38,000 students. Together, these students have logged more than 5 million miles. An initiative developed by U.S. Olympians and Paralympians -- athletes with physical disabilities -- World Fit seeks to curb the alarming increase in obesity rates, which have tripled in the past 30 years. Today, one out of three children is considered obese.
Olympians and Paralympians across the country volunteer to adopt a middle school and speak annually to its students about the importance of physical fitness activities and a healthier lifestyle. They encourage the students to participate in the World Fit Walk/exercise challenge, held each spring near or on campuses. When this program achieves its potential, ten million young Americans will be reached with a personal inspirational message from an Olympian or Paralympian every year. World Fit partners are Sanofi, Platinum Performance, UnitedHealthCare and locally Fluid Edge Consulting.
*About Renee Hykel, Attorney and Olympian
Renee Hykel Cuddy competed in the 2008 Olympics (Beijing, China) in women's rowing. During her six years on the USA national rowing team, Renee won various medals at the World Championships and World Cup of Rowing. She is a Philadelphia area native who graduated from Haverford High and learned to row on the Schuylkill River at Saint Joseph's University. She remains passionate about the sport of rowing and is actively involved in the Philadelphia rowing community through coaching and mentoring athletes. Renee was a co-host of the television broadcast of the 2012 Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta. Renee now works as an immigration and family law attorney.