DEARBORN – The sounds of kids running through the hallways echoed throughout Fordson High
School on Friday, April 1.
But instead of telling them to slow down, adults walkedalongside them as part of Wayne County’s New Me exercise, nutrition and weight management program’s kickoff event, which was attended by more than 100 people.
Helping Youth Progress and Excel (HYPE) Athletics Founder Ali Sayed also spoke to the crowd about the importance of exercise and nutrition, at one point participating on stage in a round of jumping jacks as
part of the kick-off.
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano spearheaded the project and also spoke, telling the crowd he manages to jog six days a week despite his busy career. A startling 33% of all Wayne County residents are considered obese according to recent statistics and Michigan as a state ranks 8th out of 50 in terms of having the highest number of obese residents.
The $350,000, three-year program, which will be paid for by grants and sponsors, encourages the formation of walking clubs, highlights food choices that are nutritious, and also offers a website for resources, www.healthynewme.org. At the site, prospective participants can sign up to receive updates on health-related events, join walking clubs, track their progress and more. The goal is for participants to walk 100,000 miles total by July 2011.
Pedometers for counting distances walked or ran were given out along with brochures featuring healthy eating tips, including the importance of eating a wide variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables,
buying organic produce to avoid pesticide residues from the “dirty dozen” of foods (list found at foodnews.org), and eating whole grains when possible instead of refined ones.
In addition to walking club events, a large health expo is expected to be held at Cobo Arena on April 20 in Detroit and a conference on combating the obesity problem is also scheduled to be held in July.