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Vets battle obesity in Belmont

Fun Fitness Day willl be held at the M.S. 45 Don Serpone schoolyard. Photo: Irasema Romero

Fun Fitness Day will be held at the M.S. 45 Don Serpone schoolyard. Photo: Irasema Romero

Military veterans will lead Belmont children in a series of interactive games during Fitness Fun Day Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at M.S. 45.

According to the New York City Department of Health, 40 percent of city children are overweight or obese. Fitness Fun Day is designed to promote more physical activity by students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The free program is sponsored by USA Fitness Corps, a non-profit organization established in 2009 to fight childhood obesity with veteran volunteers. “We want them to be as much like Saturday morning, and less like school,” said USA Fitness Corp spokesman Arthur Pincus.

Fitness Fun Day uses a custom curriculum designed by Dr. Jaci VanHeest, a professor of kinesiology and child psychology at the University of Connecticut. With names like Wicked Ball, Attack the Snack, and In the Pickle, each activity offers an opportunity for students to have fun while being physically active.

For Attack the Snack, the captain selects a food product, and along with his or her team, decides what physical activity is necessary to burn calories consumed in each serving. Depending on the calorie amount, the group collaborates to burn calories with jumping jacks, jogging or push-ups.

During training last week, participating veterans were advised not to use the word exercise with students because that makes it sound too much like work. “If they are fun, they will want to do more of those kinds of activities,” said David Haney, USA Fitness executive director. “All of that leads to a healthier and happier kid, and happier families.”

Parents may still register their children for free at the site. The school is located at 2502 Lorillard Place. For more information,  email info@usafitnesscorps.org.