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Roseville school's "Hawk Walk" promotes fitness

Program aims to combat childhood obesity epidemic
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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For a particular personal trainer, an afternoon of teaching kids about fitness involved turning back the clock to reflect on his own youth.

Sami Kader remembers feelings of loneliness as a child struggling with his weight. For the past 10 years, he's worked as a trainer, currently with 24 Hour Fitness in Roseville.

"My whole thing is helping kids and teens because of my background as an obese kid," Kader said. "I lost a lot of weight. So my passion is coming back into the schools. It's an honor to be here."

On April 26, here was St. Albans Country Day School in Roseville, which hosted its second-annual Hawk Walk fitness fundraiser. Over the course of two days, some 230 kids in the private pre-kindergarten through eighth grade campus broke a sweat.

The program is a volunteer-run effort to instill healthy eating and lifestyle habits and combat childhood obesity in the United States, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

"With children, you have to start them early in getting educated on fitness and health and food choices, so as they get older and their bodies change, they have the knowledge to deal with that," said St. Albans physical education teacher Nancy Shiro.

Shiro has taught P.E. for 19 years. Through the years she's seen a change in children's interest in playing outside - they're more focused on using technology indoors. Parents need to be proactive in finding physical activities for their kids, she said.

Parent Kim Hlavac-Campbell coordinates Hawk Walk. She works as an instructor at Integrated Pilates in Granite Bay and her twins attend second grade at St. Albans. She said yoga and Pilates suit people of all ages.

"Yoga is so great for kids because it helps them relax and center themselves," Hlavac-Campbell said. "Pilates is good for core strength, flexibility and balance no matter what age you are."

The hour-long Hawk Walk began with a five-minute Zumba session, where kids danced around and warmed up for the following seven circuit stations. Those 55-second stations included jumping Jacks, push-ups, bicep curls, squats and more. Another group of kids walked and jogged around the gymnasium until it was their turn for circuits.

Kader led the stations. For the past five years, he's run a boot camp at 24 Hour Fitness. Unlike the typical militaristic style of boot camps, his is focused on promoting a positive and encouraging attitude.

"(It's) more of a we're-all-together and there's-nothing-we-can't-do," Kader said.

Parent Irene Wu volunteered at Hawk Walk on behalf of her two kids - she has a son in second grade and daughter in kindergarten. She said her kids have a lot of energy, which they expend with soccer, swim lessons and family walks.

"We do what we can," Wu said.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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Obese youth are ...

  • More likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • More likely to have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for diabetes
  • At a greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem
  • Likely to be obese as adults and more at risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention