GARNER, N.C. — The percentage of children and adolescents who are overweight has nearly tripled in the past 20 years. About in one in five children is too heavy — a condition that makes them more likely to become overweight and obese as adults and to have significant health problems.
That's why a superhero called "Kid Fitness" has come to the rescue.
Kid Fitness is the sworn enemy of junk food and inactivity. And behind the mask of the crusader who visits elementary school classrooms is Garner Magnet High School senior Kiersa Stricklen.
Stricklen created this program called Phase 3 Fitness and Nutrition and offers herself to any school that invites her. A statistic inspired her.
“One in five kids in North Carolina are obese or will be obese, and the problem is just incredible and it's rising every single year,” Stricklen explained.
She blames sugar-filled snacks, too much TV and video games and not enough structured activity at school.
“So the kids, when they get outside, they're not really into it. They just walk around and their heart rates aren't pumping,” she said.
Stricklen presents the food pyramid to the youngsters and preaches healthy food choices. Nutrition and exercise are part of the school curriculum, but teacher Kim Miller said she welcomes Stricklen’s help in amplifying the message to Miller’s kindergarten class at Fred Smith Elementary School.
She thinks it will help the children perform better in school, too.
“If they're able to move around and get exercise, they're not going to be as lethargic and they'll be able to pay attention better,” Miller said.
Stricklen hopes to attend the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in the fall, majoring in exercise and sport science and keeping her superhero volunteer work going on the side.