Cleveland event informs community about dangers of childhood obesity

Cleveland event informs community about dangers of childhood obesity

February 18th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

Karen Tarukwasha, left, and her friend Sheyly Roblero complete the Saturday fun run to promote childhood fitness at the greenway in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Dozens of children and many adults came to Cleveland's greenway Saturday to run for fun, show off their Zumba moves and learn about nutrition.

The event was part of the "Eat. Move. Grow United'' campaign organized by Lee University's Bateman Team of public relations students to inform the community about the dangers of childhood obesity.

The Bateman Team public relations teams at universities across the nation put their classroom experiences to work each year by organizing and promoting a public service campaign.

The teams joined with United Way to campaign against childhood obesity. In March a panel of public relations professionals in New York City will select the top teams.

The effort echoes the national drive by first lady Michelle Obama, said Dr. Patty Silverman, associate professor of public relations at Lee.

The Bateman Team has been promoting the campaign through brochures and radio and TV interviews. The Lee team got support from the Cleveland Family YMCA and United Way.

And it got the attention of Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, who declared February as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.

The Lee students found that 36.5 percent of children and adolescents in Tennessee are overweight or obese. Tennessee ranks fifth in the nation for childhood obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bateman Team member Tomi Ajibodu from Nigeria said the campaign involves brainstorming and teamwork.

Team member Desiree Colon, of Cleveland, said she was "shocked" to hear how many children are overweight or obese.

For the campaign, she said, "We tried to figure out something that would bring in people from the community."

The fun run started at the Harris Circle trail head and ended at the playground at Raider Drive.

"It makes you feel good,'' said Josie Cate, as she finished well ahead of mom, Dedra Ludwig, who had Tinley and Anna aboard a double stroller.

Six-year-old Karen Tarukwasha and her friend Sheyly Roblero took a few deep breaths after the run and headed for the inflated jumping cage.