La. kids learn about fitness, nutrition and fun from paramedics and firefighters


 
 

Carol WolframTimes-Picayune | | Tuesday, June 26, 2007


NEW ORLEANS, La. Samantha Gambino is having so much fun getting Fit as a Firefighter, she said she hopes the summer camp will be extended throughout the entire summer.

The Slidell 10-year-old is one of 60 youths, ages 8-12, from throughout the parish who spent the past week learning how good choices can lead to healthier lifestyles as part of a free pilot program for overweight children.

Mother Nature and 100-plus degree heat index temperatures were the first challenges overcome by the campers as well the medical and fitness professionals, firefighters and paramedics who volunteered to spend the week leading the youths in everything from firefighter games to games of chase with K9 search and rescue dogs.

Larry Hess, chief of St. Tammany Fire Protection District 1, said he felt the kids were handling the heat better than most of the adults. "It doesn't faze them, but it's been pretty rough on the firefighters," Hess said with a laugh.

The campers were assisted in keeping their cool as activities were rotated in and out of the District 1 training facilities at Camp Villere. Divided into four age groups, the first would receive a fire engine tour while the second group was being certified in CPR, the third group was learning how to read food labels and the proper way to lose weight, and the fourth group was receiving the latest information on stranger danger and seat belt safety.

Every minute of the entire week, however, was dedicated to learning about healthy living. That included the hours during which the youths were not in class, as parents reenforced by night the messages being taught by day.

"You have to eat more than one cup of vegetables a day," said 10-year-old Lexy Pearson of Slidell.

"Your body can fit through a little crack, and it's not meant to hit concrete," said Elijah Simms, 12, from Lacombe.

"Don't just drink soft drinks," said 10-year-old Kristen Woods of Slidell.

"There are no good foods and bad foods," explained Harold Simmons, 12, of Slidell. "You have to watch how much you eat. That's what's important."

"I watch too much TV," admitted Casey Casler, 9, of Lacombe.

"You can die by eating junk food," warned Adriana Esponge, 9, of Slidell.

"Some foods -- you think they're healthy and good but they can have a lot of sugar," said Emma Landeche, 9, of Slidell. Emma described dried pineapple slices as a prime example. "There's the sugar already in the pineapple, and then extra sugar is added on top of that!"

An entire day of programming was dedicated to self-esteem and team building which Slidell Memorial Hospital Parenting Center parenting educator Taffy Morrison said can help the youths cope with everything from teasing by classmates to negative self-images. "It's who you are inside that counts," Morrison said.

Keeping that attitude in mind, the youths should be able to focus their attention on getting healthier "one day at a time," she said.

"A lot of the information they received is information they may already have been taught at home. But a 'mom' can tell you something all day long. Sometimes you have to hear it from a 'professional' before you actually listen," Morrison said.

Michelle Shoultz, Slidell Memorial Hospital clinical director of women's and children's services, said the need for the program was great, as sedimentary lifestyles and poor choices are among the key factors leading to youth obesity. The Fit as a Firefighter program coordinator, Shoultz plans to seek National Fire Academy's endorsement of the camp as a national program to fight childhood obesity.

Shoultz explained that only children with weight issues, and their siblings, were allowed to register for the camp presented by Slidell Memorial, Fire District 1 and Cross Gates Athletic Club. That exclusivity was important to the success of the camp.

"You can see their self-esteem growing," Morrison agreed. "They're not competing against the athletes who are always winning all the games. They're on an even playing field, and they're having fun."




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism, Industry News, Training

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >