Elizabeth Schools’ Event Promotes Teen Obesity Awareness

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ELIZABETH – On Tuesday, May 10, Elizabeth Public Schools held its fourth annual “Healthy Leap into Summer” health expo in collaboration with organizers Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce President James R. Coyle and Trinitas Regional Medical Center Vice President of Clinical Services, Nancy DiLiegro, PhD.

The health expo, which is the largest teen obesity awareness program in the U.S. according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, was held at the Dunn Sports Center on Pearl Street in Elizabeth. The one-day program is designed to promote healthy lifestyles to high school students while addressing the epidemic of teen obesity.

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Childhood obesity has grown considerably in recent years, with 16 to 33 percent of children and adolescents now considered obese. The Healthy Leap into Summer event provides Elizabeth High School students with the tools they need to combat teen obesity and live more health conscious lives.

At the event, students from the district’s six high schools participated in workshops, received health screenings, viewed food demonstrations, and had the opportunity to peruse over 50 interactive exhibits provided by organizations from Elizabeth and the surrounding community. Popular exhibits included massage therapy, a rock-climbing wall provided by the US Army, and healthy food tasting. The expo concluded with a rally including guest speakers, performers, and contests for students. Competition winners of healthy poster, dance and jump rope contests each received $500 scholarships.

This year, the Health Expo featured Julianna White, Miss New Jersey USA. Miss White, a senior at The College of New Jersey majoring in Communications, is very active in the fight against Breast Cancer through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. She is personally connected with this cause as her mother is a breast cancer survivor. Miss New Jersey signed autographs and spoke individually to students earlier in the day. At the rally, she addressed students encouraging them to be active and live healthy lives.

The rally also highlighted American recording artist and songwriter Charlie Vox who entertained students by performing Monday Morning, a song she wrote for recording artist Melanie Fiona. Vox also shared with students her personal struggle in achieving a healthy weight. She said, “As a teen I struggled with obesity, and because of it, my teen years were a difficult time for me, I hope I inspired someone with my story to get up, get moving and get healthy.”

New York Red Bulls soccer midfielder Matt Kassel and defender Stephen Keel urged students to take the “healthy leap” by keeping active and staying in shape through sports and physical activity.

Superintendent of Schools Pablo Muñoz commended the health expo. “I am grateful to the sponsors of this annual event for providing our students this tremendous opportunity to gain knowledge in the area of preventive healthcare from such a diverse and committed group of community members.”

Board member Paul Perreira added, “The time and effort of the sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers in providing vital health information to our teens is greatly appreciated. Their efforts have made a lasting impact on our students’ quality of life.”

The health expo was sponsored by the following elite organizations: Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, AmeriHealth New Jersey, and Overlook Medical Center.

Julianna White, Miss New Jersey USA, took part in Elizabeth Public Schools’ annual “Healthy Leap into Summer” health expo on May 10. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Public Schools)


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