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After-School Activity Program Promotes Children’s Fitness

The Health and Physical Education Department will offer the eight-week After-School Activity Program (ASAP) starting February 28, 2012, for area students in grades six through eight.

Programs will continue March 1, 6, 8, 20, 22, 27, and 29 and April 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, and 26 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

ASAP will take place at campus facilities including gymnasiums and fields, the James G. Mill Fitness Center, and Lepley Natatorium. Future health and physical education professionals will direct all activities.

Cost for the program is $50, which covers 16 two-hour sessions focusing on physical fitness and healthy lifestyles, a T-shirt, pedometer, and certificate of completion. Healthy snacks will be provided at each session. Registration is required by February 21.

In addition to the fitness activities, ASAP will venture into social media, offering participants supplemental healthy lessons, nutrition tips, activity ideas, and instructional videos through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

For more information or to register, call 724-357-2041 or e-mail hped-asap@iup.edu. Additional information and a registration form are available on the After-School Activity Program (ASAP) web page.

“Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be a lot of fun,” Keri Kulik, co-administrator of ASAP, said. “Participants will have the chance to engage in an incredible variety of activities, all of which promote physical fitness.”

The activities range from relaxing yoga to intense outdoor adventure.

“Middle-school students of all fitness levels have something to be excited about. While there are some familiar activities, we plan on introducing some novel games and exercises that they may never have heard of,” Kulik said. Activities may include a climbing wall, rollerblading, biking, swimming, geocaching, exergaming, and hiking.

Originally intended to target childhood obesity, the ASAP program evolved during the planning stages.

“Even kids who are active and participate in sports can adopt unhealthy habits growing into adulthood,” Thurston Sick, an IUP graduate student pursuing certification to teach health and physical education, said.

“The ultimate goal is to provide children in the community tools to be healthy for life, regardless of their current physical fitness situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re an all-star at basketball or softball or if you avidly play video games, you will benefit by participating in the ASAP program.”

While obesity is only one risk factor of an inactive lifestyle, it may lead to major health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based study of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70 percent of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

In addition, the CDC recognizes that obese children and adolescents are likely to be obese as adults and, therefore, more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, and osteoarthritis.