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Preventing the health problems associated with obesity should start at a young age, so children can develop healthy habits.

Genesee Community College has presented a challenge to six local elementary schools: who can be the most fit?

Becky Dziekan, the health and physical education director at the college, says a competition is a great way for kids to view exercise in a positive way.

 “You have to make it fun," Dziekan said. "You have to show them what these activities are and show them how fun it is."

Children in the third through fifth grades are competing to record the most time spent being physically active outside of school hours through Nov. 16. Children keep track of their activity using a calendar.
Because children spend so much time at school and it's a great influence in their lives, Dziekan says it's logical for schools to take the lead in preventing obesity.

“I think that’s something that has to be a part of school curriculum in promoting this physical activity from every angle we can," Dziekan said.

Dziekan cites studies that say kids who exercise have increased alertness, sleep better and their academic performance benefits.

When winter comes, it sometimes becomes harder for children to keep up with physical activity, especially if they aren't involved in a winter sport. But Dziekan  says there are ways to combat the cold weather.

“There’s so many things to do when the weather changes and gets cold. Even getting out there and shoveling the driveway and shoveling sidewalks – that’s all physical activity.”

 The school with the most time accumulated will get a special plaque and a pizza party.

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