Elizabeth Teen Health Expo Is Largest Teen Obesity Awareness Event In U.S.

ELIZABETH– On Thursday, May 30, Elizabeth Public Schools held its sixth 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, took place in the Dunn Sports Center at 151 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. Childhood obesity has grown considerably in recent years, with 16 to 33 percent of children and adolescents now considered obese. The annual Healthy Leap event provides Elizabeth Public Schools’ high school students the tools they need to combat teen obesity and live more health conscious lives.

Over 2,000 students from the district’s six high schools participated in workshops, received health screenings, viewed food demonstrations, and had the opportunity to learn from interactive exhibits provided by organizations from Elizabeth and the surrounding community. Popular exhibits included Zumba Fitness; Nutrition Labels & Fast Food; Massage Therapy, and a Rock Climbing Wall.

The expo concluded with a rally including guest speakers, performers, and contests for students. Competition winners of healthy poster, dance and public service announcement contests each received $500 scholarships. Students also earned tickets from various exhibits and workshops which they entered to win an iPad provided by the Gateway Chamber of Commerce.

American recording artist, song writer, and producer Charlie Vox, of the band Random Ax of Charlie, entertained students at the rally with her single, “You Should Let Me Love You.” She also shared with students her personal struggle in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Vox challenged students to get up, get moving and get healthy.

Board of Education President Tony Monteiro, board members Charlene Bathelus and Francisco González, and Superintendent Pablo Muñoz, were on hand to urge students to “take a healthy leap.”

Monteiro commented, “The time and effort of the sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers in providing vital health information to our teens has made a lasting impact on our students’ quality of life.”

Superintendent of Schools Pablo Muñoz said, “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.”

Jim Coyle, President of the Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce commented, “The Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce is again proud to have collaborated in organizing this important health expo. Over and over, teen obesity has been proven one of the deadliest but least talked about issues of our time. The generation experiencing teen obesity needs good role models and healthier options, and we at the Chamber could not be more pleased to be able to help provide them.”

“Students in high school are beginning to make decisions for themselves, therefore this is such an important time to help them focus on healthy behaviors,” stated Nancy DiLiegro, FACHE, Ph.D., Vice President of Clinical and Physician Services at Trinitas Regional Medical Center. “The habits that our young people learn now will affect them throughout their lives,” she added.

“Overlook Medical Center has been participating in this worthwhile event since its inception, providing information on healthy living and better choices,” stated Manager of Community Health at Overlook Medical Center Joyce Passen, BSN, MBA. “We as a health institution are always concerned not only about the rise in Childhood Obesity but also in Type II Diabetes in children. We applaud the Gateway Chamber and the other sponsors for highlighting information on the importance of fitness and healthy eating for youth.”

“It’s very important to instill healthy behaviors early in life so that kids can carry those lessons into adulthood,” said Judith L. Roman, president and CEO of AmeriHealth New Jersey. “AmeriHealth New Jersey is proud once again to support the Healthy Leap into Summer health expo, which is helping promote health and wellness to students in our local communities.”

Angie Tsirkas, Vice President and Business Development Officer for Northfield Bank commented, “Northfield Bank believes in helping to build strong communities and is proud to support the 6th annual Healthy Leap into Summer expo and build ongoing awareness around the issue of teen obesity and the importance of living a healthier lifestyle.”

The health expo was sponsored by: Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, United States Office of Health & Human Services, United States Army, AmeriHealth New Jersey, Overlook Medical Center, Northfield Bank, and Prescription Corporation of America.

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