“It’s about being fit for life with healthy eating and exercise,” said Amy Kimberlain, a Youth Health specialist for the Seminole Health Department.
On Jan. 28 at the Learning Resources Center on the Big Cypress Reservation, Kimberlain put her words to work during Keep the Rally Going for children from the Boys & Girls Club.
The hour-long event featured a mix of yoga stretches for flexibility, jumping jacks and running for cardio, and push-ups plus other weight-resistance exercises for strength. An educational and tasty lineup of good foods for the body and mind were offered on tables that lined the room.
“We got to eat grains, vegetables and fruits and have fun at the same time,” said Dillon Robbins, 8. “I think I’ll go home and tell the grown-ups to eat more oranges.”
Adults are also keeping the Rez Rally spirit alive by joining pedometer and walking contests on the Brighton, Big Cypress, Hollywood, Tampa, Naples and Immokalee reservations. The six-week program tracks the number of steps each contestant takes and the amount of pounds each loses.
“With every New Year we get a lot of people really excited about living healthier lives – and it starts with Rez Rally,” said Barbara Boling, a Health educator on the Brighton Reservation. “All we want to do now is keep it going.”
The Seminole Pathways program of the Seminole Health Department sponsors all contests.
In Big Cypress, the pedometer contest is called Stomp the Swamp. The other contests are called Pedometer On – Pounds Off. All require contestants to check in during weekly walks to record the number of steps walked and the amount of pounds shed. Some of the weekly walks will have raffle drawings, lunch and other prizes.
The contests end the second week of March, and seniors and adults with the highest scores on each reservation will win bigger prizes. If contestants maintain their weight loss through the Tribe’s annual spring health fair, they will win a chance at grand prizes.
Boling said goals may differ on each reservation, but Brighton contestants are challenged to reach 40,000 steps walked (about 2 miles per day) and to lose 5 percent of their starting weight.
Kimberlain said kids are encouraged to keep Rez Rally going by learning more about nutrition and exercise and then turning what they learn into habit.
“Diabetes prevention is always the theme of Rez Rally,” Kimberlain said. “Our role in the Health Department is prevention, and the key components are diet and exercise.”
Kimberlain, who teaches health and nutrition to youth Tribalwide, asked children to guess why the Health Department constantly stresses healthy eating and exercise.
“Because you love us,” said Akira Cabral, 8.