We always love getting to know Leaders in the movement that are doing great work, but every once in a while, we meet someone who’s a true veteran in the field. This week we spoke with Patti Simanski, whose work in the health and obesity movement has spanned almost ten years and across various programs and initiatives. Read on to learn more about Patti, and take the opportunity to connect with her directly through her PreventObesity profile here.
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
Nine years ago I started teaching a 12-week adult health and wellness weight management program. After a great success, the parents in the group asked if I would work with their obese children. During that venture, I gained a whole new awareness of food addiction and mental wellness through the eyes of these wonderful children. Helping them live healthier, happier lives became my passion and joy.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
Awareness, education and exercise! I am working with our local town officials in the First Lady’s Let’s Move Cities & Towns initiative. This past May, with help from the children in our community, we held our first “Walk Out” Childhood Obesity two-mile community walk. In the fall we held a fruit and vegetable coloring contest for students in pre-k through fifth grade, and exercise balls were awarded for prizes in each grade.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
This past July, I opened a nonprofit childhood obesity center called “All About The Kids Fitness.” This center is a fun and safe place for children to exercise in a facility that is designed especially for their needs. I teach a weekly lesson on proper food choices, portion control, the role that protein and fiber play and identifying such foods to help them achieve their weight loss goals. Stress management, bullying and self-esteem are all very real issues for most of these children and are among the leading cause of childhood obesity, along with food disparity. The average child that follows the weekly lesson plan of healthier lifestyle changes is seeing results including a 20 pound weight loss and BMI falling into normal range within the 12-week period. And, they are happier and becoming mentors to other children with similar goals.
Who is your role model in your work?
The children! It takes a big, brave, almost broken spirit to tackle serious weight loss issues.
What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
I loved to climb the cherry tree in my backyard and sit on a branch and pick and eat. Picking fresh lettuce from our garden was always a treat!
Each week, our own Prarthana Gurung speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Prarthana’s profile and contact her.