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NYCHA Youth Walk to Combat Childhood Obesity

Sometimes life really is a walk in the park. At least it was for 1,850 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) summer camp participants, who came to Staten Island's Clove Lakes Park on August 14th for the Sixth Annual Kids Walk.

Kids Walk 2007
Harry the Clown from the Big Apple Circus came out to cheer on the children.
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

The two-and-a-half mile walkathon was designed to emphasize the importance of exercise in the fight against obesity. Eleven-year-old Omorefe Slayton from Richmond Terrace Community Center in Staten Island didn't seem fazed at all by the prospect of a two-and-a-half mile walk. "It's not hard to do," she said. Maybe that's because Omorefe was participating in Kids Walk for the third year in a row, and, she said she already gets lots of exercise during the week playing basketball.

NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez gave the kids a brief pep talk before they set out, with the participants from each Community Center gathering at the start line behind the brightly painted banners they created. "It's important to exercise and to eat right," the Chairman said. "Have a great time and stay healthy."

Board Member Margarita López cheered the walkers on with her trademark enthusiasm. Other special guests included Community Operations Deputy General Manager Hugh Spence, and Harry, a ten-and-a-half-foot tall clown from the Big Apple Circus.

Kids Walk 2007
NYCHA Board Member Margarita Lopez does a warm up with the children.
Photo credit: Pete Mikoleski

The many sponsors for the event included: Affinity Health Plan, Community Health Action of Staten Island, Maramont Corporation, Snapple and the Staten Island University Hospital. The children and supporters were served a healthy lunch that included a sandwich, fruits and vegetables, and they also learned a lot about healthy eating, and took part in fun activities when the walk was completed.

"I would like all the children in the City to follow the example of the children who live in public housing, with good nutrition and exercise," said Ms. López.

The walkers are all participants in NYCHA's Summer Camp program, which offers a wealth of daytime activities for young residents and residents of the surrounding communities, ages 6-12, in July and August. The Housing Authority currently runs 114 day camps throughout the City. For more information, call 311 or visit NYCHA's Recreation Programs webpage.

By Eileen Elliott
August 15, 2007