DANBURY, Conn. -- In an era where childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, three Danbury High School seniors will share with elementary school students and their parents some easy ideas for improving their fitness and lifestyle.
Bradley Fox, Chris Leone and Tumani Edwards will speak to and demonstrate fitness activities at Park Avenue and Morris Street elementary schools this week. The project is part of their involvement in Danbury High’s Peer Leadership class. Each student is required by adviser Susan Schullery to develop a Community Change Project.
The boys will visit Park Avenue on Tuesday, March 21, and Morris Street on Thursday, March 23, during the school day. They will also visit each school for 90 minutes beginning at 6:30 p.m. to encourage parents to exercise with their kids.
The “Fun and Fitness” night program will include discussion and demonstrations on how to become more physically active as well as a session with Kathy O’Dowd, who will share information on healthy eating habits. O’Dowd is the district’s Health and Nursing Services Coordinator.
Fox, Leone and Edwards are members of the school’s cross country and track and field teams. Their passion and commitment to fitness developed early on, and their program will encourage younger students to adopt an early commitment to fitness.
“My teammates and I were introduced to track by our parents and siblings,’’ Fox said. “Without that influence, I don’t think we would have enjoyed track as much as we have, and nor would it have had the impact that it has made on our lives. It’s important to introduce to younger kids what’s in front of them. Even if one person sees this and gets interested, then it will have been worth it.”
The demonstration during the day will be held in the gymnasium at each school. The elementary students will do jumping jacks, swing hula hoops and participate in other simple fitness activities. The students will also receive a brochure from the high school seniors on things they can do at home to become more fit.
“We designed the brochure ourselves,’’ Fox said. “It has a lot of different colors and pictures. It gives a basic overview of ways to stay fit, and also gives a lot of information about local organizations that are there to help.”
The boys have been working on their project for nearly three months. Given their passion for fitness, the idea came easily. “We knew we wanted to do something fitness related,’’ Fox said. “We were kicking around a lot of ideas.”
King Street Elementary School teacher Mark Ottusch suggested the boys target Park Avenue and Morris Street with their project based on recent fitness test scores.
Peer Leadership is one of the most exclusive at the school. Nearly 100 students apply, and 40 were accepted this year. Students are selected based on their past leadership history and prior work as role models.
The boys feel fitness and sports are an important part of development. While they are members of the school’s successful track team, the most important message they want to convey is that effort and commitment trump any temporary award for achievement.
“Playing sports and staying physically fit gives you an advantage over other people,’’ Fox said. “There are plenty of clubs out there that are doing good things, too. Sports is one of the strongest ways to find new friends, develop fitness and build a healthy lifestyle. Dedication and commitment to a sport can help a student overcome things like depression, drugs and alcohol, so that you don’t get stuck in a bad situation.”