Through a $50,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation, the Weller Health Education Center is providing a comprehensive, community-based nutrition and fitness program, Niños en Acción, for families and children in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with the goal to reduce and prevent childhood obesity and improve overall health and wellness of Bethlehem residents.
Through the Niños en Acción initiative, more than 5,000 children from the Bethlehem Area School District have participated in measurable, in-school programs on nutrition and physical activity. These programs, for students in grades one, three, six and eight, were delivered by the Weller Center’s staff of health educators. The Weller Center also offers free family education nights to improve health literacy among parents by teaching them how to incorporate healthy eating and exercise into their families’ daily lives.
This next community night, which runs April 28 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Freemansburg Elementary School, 501 Monroe Street, Bethlehem, includes a healthy dinner for all participants, eye-opening nutrition demonstrations, a “Kids in Motion” exercise session and music by DJ Miguel Mixx. A raffle for a Wii™ Fit game system will be held with the winner announced at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and is being held in conjunction with the Freemansburg Family Fun night. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
The Bethlehem Area School District is the sixth largest in Pennsylvania with 47 percent of students considered economically disadvantaged. (Across the district’s 22 schools, poverty levels range from four percent to 98 percent.) District-wide, 33 percent of the student population is Hispanic—an ethnicity which experiences higher rates of overweight and obesity than non-Hispanic Caucasians. Studies show that decreased physical activity and poor nutrition can result in lower achievement in school. Improving physical health and nutrition are vital to helping these children get healthier, achieve academic success and experience a better quality of life.