Fit Like A Firefighter

Fighting childhood obesity is of national concern and a high priority for health care providers in Louisiana. Medical studies have shown that overweight children are likely to grow up to be obese adults who contribute to medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and cancer. In Louisiana, 62% of adults and 17% of children are obese or overweight according to the Louisiana Council on Obesity Prevention and Management.

Therefore, St. Tammany Fire Protection District No.1 and Slidell Memorial Hospital for the second summer in a row hosted the week long Fit as a Firefighter Camp aimed at building self esteem and teaching nutrition and exercise skills to local children who are overweight. The Fit as a Firefighter program is for children between 7 and 12 years of age. This year the camp was held July 7 to 11 at the St. Tammany Fire Protection District No.1 Fire Training Academy at Camp Villere in Slidell.

The program includes daily nutrition and fitness classes by a certified dietician and fitness trainers. Children also learn personal safety, including CPR, First Aid training, boating and community safety. Campers also participate in fun fitness activities such as Karate, rock climbing, water games, cooking classes, line and square dancing just to name a few.

Additional participants in the program include the Slidell Police Department SWAT and K9 teams, the Louisiana State Troopers, Junior Auxiliary of Slidell, Crossgates Athletic Club, Acadian Ambulance, the Rotary Club of Slidell-Northshore and the Louisiana National Guard. Camp hours are from 8am to 4 pm.

Describing the Fire District as an “all-hazard agency” Chief Larry Hess calls Fit as a Firefighter a mission-based program. According to Chief Hess, “kids do emulate firefighters, and we can influence them to be active, to be healthy and to have an understanding of what is good and what is bad for them. Clearly, attacking this problem-which is identified nationwide as an epidemic in proportions, while it is still developing, is a good target to reduce the impact on public health and target public safety at the same time.

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