By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com The Pittsburgh Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh football team joined forces with the American Heart Association to host the Healthy Family Training Camp.
The first-time event was held at the indoor practice facility at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex and was developed to help combat childhood obesity as nearly one in every three children are overweight.
"It's a growing concern; it's become an epidemic in this country," said Karen Colbert, the Regional Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. "The concept of Healthy Family Training Camp is to start with the parents, because if they exercise and eat healthy it will trickle down to the kids and that is what we hope for."
Over 150 families were selected to attend by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, who sought out those who are in underserved neighborhoods of Pittsburgh and can benefit the most from the lessons learned. The idea was to have parents and kids attend, because if the parents learn and develop healthy habits then they will pass it along to their children.
"It's always fun to keep kids healthy," said Steelers running back Carey Davis, who hosted the 'Get Geared Up' station, a relay race for parents. "The station we did is for adults. If they know about health and nutrition they can pass it on to the kids and they can become healthier and live longer lives. If you don't know, there is no way you can tell your child. It's important for the parents to teach it and pass it on."
Parents and kids all made the rounds to the different stations, where the activities ranged from health screening and CPR lessons to activities such as an obstacle course and football toss.
"It's great. It's for the kids to get some activity," said Dana Colvin of the South Side, who was there with her two granddaughters. "A lot of kids don't get any activity. They don't run around. They sit around playing video games and watch television. I try to get my grandkids out to the playground and pool. We go a lot of places and do activities. We have to try and keep them busy, keep them moving. We want them to be energetic. The activity is great for them."
UPMC, UPMC Sports Medicine, Children's Hospital, PNC Bank and Giant Eagle all hosted stations and gave away gifts to the families that encouraged them to stay active and be heart healthy. Heart disease is the number one killer of people in the United States and overweight children are more likely to have risk factors associated with the disease.
"It's very important to do this," said University of Pittsburgh quarterback Bill Stull. "I just learned about heart disease being the number one killer in America. I didn't know that. Now that I realize that, we will put more emphasis on the kids going out and training for 60 minutes a day. If you do that every day when you are a kid, then when you are an adult you will do something hopefully a half hour a day.
"I love the fact that we get opportunities like this. It's a great chance for the kids to come out and learn something and have fun."
Photos By Mike Fabus