Local groups kick off childhood obesity initiative

Community leaders in Caddo and Bossier parishes are taking a stand against childhood obesity.

Nearly 20 organizations proclaimed Monday as the beginning of the Year of the Healthy Child, an initiative designed to address the need for exercise and nutrition programs aimed at children through coordinated efforts from various organizations. The program is anticipated to run through the school year.

Earlier this month, community leaders said they were preparing to launch the program with a series of events aimed at reaching the greatest number of students and parents, including everything from a recipe contest to exercise programs. The initiative is the brainchild of the Krewe de les Femmes Mystique.

“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to have our community come together in such a positive way to address childhood obesity,” said Elizabeth Teeters, captain of the Krewe de les Femmes Mystique. “There’s a great deal of pride in seeing how much each of these organizations have stepped up to do whatever they could to better the health of our children.”

Teeters said the initiative’s partners will hold events throughout the year designed to engage children and families in making healthier choices.

Bossier Parish School Board Superintendent D.C. Machen said Bossier schools have spent the last several years enhancing its child nutrition offerings and are happy to see the results of a collaboration of this size.

“This pairs well with our wellness and nutrition initiatives and we’re honored to be a part of this new initiative,” he said.

Gerald Dawkins, superintendent of Caddo Parish Public Schools, said the district will work to continue to enhance its health education initiatives, which he believes will ultimately result in better academics.

“Nearly half of our Louisiana children are considered obese. We’re happy to be working together with so many great organizations to address this growing epidemic,” he said.

“The bottom line for us is that studies show the more physically active a student, the better they do in school. That’s what it’s about for us.”