Savannah yoga marathon to combat childhood obesity

Here’s a neat event with a great cause, right in Addriya’s backyard.  The nonprofit group Louie’s Kids is set to bring programs to Savannah

By Dana Clark Felty

Most of the kids participating in Louis Yuhasz’s after-school programs don’t know how to ride a bike. Most have little access to fresh foods or supermarkets and don’t have physical activities to do with their families.

And many are 100 to 300 pounds overweight.

“There aren’t a lot of resources or opportunities for these kids,” said Yuhasz, CEO and founder of Louie’s Kids.

For the last decade, the Charleston nonprofit has worked to help the growing number of overweight and severely obese children in some of the area’s poorest communities.

Now, local supporters are working to bring that model to Savannah.

On Saturday, they host a Yoga Marathon fundraiser from noon to 3 p.m. at Forsyth Park.

Money raised through pledges will go to COPE, a new nonprofit group working to launch Savannah’s first after-school “Fit Club.”

Louie’s Kids raised $30,000 through last year’s yoga marathon in Charleston.

Louie’s Kids signature “Fit Club” is a 16-week after-school program that provides nutritional education, exercise, family participation and group therapy sessions with a contracted clinician for 20 to 25 adolescents and teens.

The program is offered at some of Charleston’s Title I schools, meaning those where at least 90 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches.

Among the lessons are “real life nutrition,” Yuhasz said.

“We don’t teach kids the food pyramid. We teach them how to defend themselves in a convenience store.”

Another program called Run Buddies pairs a child with a local adult runner for weekly workouts and mentoring.

The program was featured in the April issue of Runner’s World magazine and is set to enroll up to 400 kids in Charleston this year.

Louie’s Kids also provides assistance through its website, experts and grant programs to children around the country seeking help with obesity.

Bringing it home

Nationwide, the obesity rate is 17 percent among American children ages 2 to 19, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s up from a 10 percent childhood obesity rate about 20 years ago.

Children living in low-income communities are at higher risk for becoming obese.

Louie’s Kids started out in 2001 raising funds to send young people from those communities to summer camps for obese youth. But the cost for just one child to attend a specialized camp climbed to more than $5,000.

Yuhasz brought the same strategies to local, school-based programs run by clinical professionals, allowing more children to receive help at a lower cost.

Savannah counselor and bariatric support coach Sandy Baker has been working since last fall to bring the Louie’s Kids model to Savannah.

Through her group COPE – an acronym for Childhood Obesity Prevention and Education – Baker plans to launch programs like Fit Club and Run Buddies hopefully later this year.

Baker also hopes to raise money to launch other healthy meal programs through local schools and the America’s Second Harvest Kid’s Cafe program.

In addition to the yoga marathon, she is planning another casino night and auction fundraiser in June.


What: Yoga Marathon

When: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Band shell at Forsyth Park

Details: Some Savannah yoga instructors will lead participants in an afternoon of yoga at Forsyth Park, rain or shine. The event is free. Funds raised through pledges go to support COPE (Childhood Obesity Prevention and Education). To register or donate, visit or call Ashley Gunnin at 843-901-0431.

Original Source: Savannah Morning News

Philadelphia School Battles Students’ Bad Eating Habits, on Campus and Off

If kids have a better awareness and respect for their bodies, they might be less tempted to put things into their bodies which could be harmful. Yoga provides the ability to increase one’s awareness of your body.  What got my attention was the reference to the research establishing the link between sugar and addtiction: “Researchers using brain imagining technology have  found that foods high in sugar or fat activate the same reward system as cocaine and other drugs.”  Basically our kids are becoming sugar addicts.  


PHILADELPHIA — Tatyana Gray bolted from her house and headed toward her elementary school. But when she reached the corner store where she usually gets her morning snack of chips or a sweet drink, she encountered a protective phalanx of parents with bright-colored safety vests and walkie-talkies.

The scourge the parents were combating was neither the drugs nor the violence that plagues this North Philadelphia neighborhood. It was bad eating habits.

“Candy!” said one of the parents, McKinley Harris, peering into a small bag one child carried out of the store. “That’s not food.”

The parents standing guard outside the Oxford Food Shop are foot soldiers in a national battle over the diets of children that has taken on new fervor. With 20 percent of the nation’s children obese, the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed new standards for federally subsidized school meals that call for more balanced meals and, for the first time, a limit on calories. The current standard specifies only a minimum calorie count, which some schools meet by adding sweet foods.

Earlier this year, when Michelle Obama, as part of her campaign against childhood obesity, announced that Wal-Mart would reduce salt and sugar in its packaged foods, she said, “We’re beginning to see the ripple effects on the choices folks are making about how they feed their kids.”

But this effort is up against an array of powerful forces, from economics to biology, all of which are playing out in Philadelphia, where the obesity rate is among the nation’s highest. At the intersection of North 28th and West Oxford Streets, the Oxford Food Shop and the William D. Kelley School are in a tug of war over the cravings of kids.

Amelia Brown, the principal of the kindergarten through eighth grade school, said that deplorable diets caused headaches and stomachaches that undermine academic achievement, and that older students showed a steady progression of flab. So inside the school, the nutrition bug is rampant. . . . To read the complete article, click here.

Orginal Source: New York Times.