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Sports / Recreation

Keeping Colorado kids healthy

July 27, 2009

Over the past few decades, the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has been increasing exponentially for children ranging from 2- to 19-years old. CSU Youth Sport Camps combat the epidemic of childhood obesity by providing the resources and opportunity for a healthy lifestyle.

Discovering healthy lifestyles

For the past 12 years, Brian Butki, director of the CSU Activity Program and the Youth Sport Camps in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, has been studying childhood lifestyles and more recently childhood obesity. Butki has two daughters - Alisha, 8, and Camden, 5.

“I’m a dad and want my kids to grow up healthy. Obesity is a big problem in our country and it’s easier if we can prevent it than if we try to fix it after it happens - stop it before it starts. In our department we have a saying, ‘Discovering healthy lifestyles.’ We want everyone to find a healthy lifestyle and to teach our kids to appreciate living healthy,” Butki says.

CSU Youth Sports Camps

Butki coordinates the Department of Health and Exercise Science’s CSU Youth Sport Camps, or YSC, which promotes physical activity in a fun and safe environment. The 11-week camp focuses on obesity prevention and lifelong fitness in children.

“It is like night and day from the first day to the last. Some kids have never played the sport and to see them enjoy and understand sports is very rewarding. On the other hand there are kids who obviously have the basics down and to see them improve existing skills is great, too,” says recent psychology graduate, Eric Martin, who has worked at the YSC for the past four years.

Having a choice

A wide range of activities are offered, including baseball, basketball, inline hockey, soccer, softball, field sports, volleyball, swim lessons, and field trips.

“We introduce the kids to a lot of activities and see what they like and don’t like. If you made me go outside to run or swim, you bet I won’t like that. But if I found something I like to do, there’s a high chance I’ll probably do it again. We need to provide our kids with different options.”

This summer, the Youth Sport Camps introduced a new course, Music and Movement, that involves aerobic dance, rhythms, and martial arts movement with music.

Colorado rates rising

Butki believes that children do not get the message of living healthy when they go to school and they don’t get it at home either. Busy parents, the marginalization of physical education in school, and the rise of cheap, easy, and fast food are all factors that cause childhood obesity. It cost more to be healthy and many Americans are not willing to pay the price.

“Colorado is the healthiest and leanest state in the country, but we are also one of the fasting growing state as far as obesity goes. That means we’re getting fatter, faster,” says Butki.

Morgan Nickel, senior health and exercise science major, says, “I see kids leaving camp and telling their parents that they need to go home and work on a certain skill or that they want to have a healthy dinner that night. I think a parent will take that very seriously when it is coming from the kids. Kids want to learn more about everything possible and I think our camp does a great job in opening their minds and giving them new opportunities.”

Enforcing physical activities

The American Heart Association suggest that every child should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily to maintain a healthy body.

Butki says, “Kids should go out and play sports and have fun. People think negatively of the word ‘exercise’, so think physical activities – baseball, basketball, hike or just jump around. They need to learn to eat better and exercise more. We have the reverse mentality to eat more and exercise less. We need to turn that around.”


Contact: Anh Ha
E-mail: Anh.Ha@ColoState.edu
Phone: (970) 491-4161