About 75 fifth-graders at Gesu School in University Heights took part in a health and fitness program in the fall designed to combat obesity. Gesu was chosen to represent the Cleveland area because the Catholic school has a strong academic profile, a history of winning athletic teams, and teachers and administrators who value school enrichment programs, said Marisa Warrix, a Cleveland-based OSU Extension educator in family and consumer sciences. Nearly 25 million United States children and teens ages 2-19 are overweight or obese, according to the Ohio Nutrition Council’s web site.

Each classroom developed a wellness plan that included healthy food choices and physical activity, Warrix said. The school received jump ropes, a DVD for a classroom fitness routine and other educational resources to help students lead healthy, active lives, Warrix said.
Geared to third- through fifth-graders, it encourages them to choose more fruits and vegetables and appropriate portion sizes for all foods and to exercise.

Students were asked to keep an individual activity log of exercise and try one new healthy food.

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