More than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight or obese. But nonprofit is trying to change that statistic through a younger crowd: kids. More than 200 public school students had a field day in the Upper East Side hosted by Asphalt Green. Melissa Caceres reports on how childhood exercise isn’t just good for the kids – it’s also good for the economy.
CACERES: In a big open field on the Upper East Side, kids are playing in groups at every corner. Elementary school students in a relay race zoom by. Next to them, other students are getting ready for an obstacle course. Ometeotl Sanchez is 9-years-old. He’s wearing a grey shirt and has long black hair that he’s trying to keep from getting in his face. His class is playing a game called Virus ball.
Playing like dodgeball but it’s something else.
CACERES: The goal is to avoid getting hit with the ball. Sort of like getting hit with a virus. But the name of the game isn’t important to Sanchez. What does matter is that he’s exercising – which is something he doesn’t do too often.
Because I’m always playing with my DS or something. ((laughs))
CACERES: Ometeotl’s habit of playing video games on his Nindendo DS is just one reason for this field day. It’s hosted by an organization called Asphalt Green. It runs a Recess Enhancement Program throughout the year. And today, more than 200 hundred kids from different schools in New York are at the field to play games. And the program’s coordinator, Ben Gologor says big open spaces are what New York City kids lack.
We’re at a couple of schools where there is no outdoor play space so they have to play inside the whole year.
CACERES: And when it’s hard for kids to get exercise in general, that hurts the economy. Dr. Bruce Lee is a professor at Johns Hopkins. He published a study recently that says childhood obesity usually carries on into adulthood. And the medical costs of being overweight also affects taxpayers.
CACERES: And he says creating exercise habits early has economic benefits for cities down the road. Back at the field, coach Marcus George is the referee for the Virus ball game. He says choosing certain games that keep kids moving is important.
It gives a chance to be active at the same time and there’s not a lot of down time.
CACERES: But the game’s winding down. And George gets the students in a class huddle.
CACERES: Events like today are a reminder that creating healthy habits in kids can help make healthy economies for the future. Melissa Caceres, Columbia Radio News.