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Healthy habits: Fair helps youth make best lifestyle choices

Theresa Osteen, dietitian at Lyster Army Health Clinic, plays games with children during the CYSS youth health fair April 27 at the Fort Rucker Youth Center to promote healthy lifestyles. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Theresa Osteen, dietitian at Lyster Army Health Clinic, plays games with children during the CYSS youth health fair April 27 at the Fort Rucker Youth Center to promote healthy lifestyles. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: May 5, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 5, 2016) -- Childhood obesity has become somewhat of an epidemic in the United States, but Fort Rucker is doing its part to take the fight against childhood obesity to its source.

The Fort Rucker Child, Youth and School Services held a youth health fair April 27 at the youth center to promote healthy living at an early age, and children and families came out to jump into healthy living habits, said Randy Tolison, Fort Rucker Youth Sports director.

 “We wanted to make sure parents and youth are aware of the many different healthy, therapeutic and safety programs that are offered here on Fort Rucker to them,” he said. “This event allows young people to see what resources are available to them for making healthy choices throughout life.”

Representatives from all over post who work in physical therapy, the dental clinic, preventative medicine, the Directorate of Public Safety and the family advocacy program were on hand to answer any questions that children or parents had.

Throughout the fair, children who signed up were able to learn about ways to keep proper dental hygiene, the importance of healthy eating habits, have their measurements taken and even learn a bit about Army Community Service and the services they provide Soldiers and families on post.

Tolison said with today’s youth exposed to so many different lifestyle choices, it’s important to make children aware that they have the option to live a healthy lifestyle and educate them on the dangers of ignoring proper hygiene, nutrition and diet.

Naomi Small, military spouse, visited the fair with her two children, David and Dillion, and said that making sure her children know the importance of healthy living is her responsibility as a parent.

“It’s really hard to talk to your kids about being healthier because usually they’re not going to listen to what you have to say,” she said. “I think the fair really helps out a lot because there are people here that they’re used to seeing and talking to, and their friends are here too, so they might be more inclined to listen.”

Small said that although she controls most of what her children eat, she wants to make sure they can make the right decisions for themselves when they get older.

“I try not to be too strict on them with their diet and I expose them to every type of food, even junk food because I want them to know what options are out there,” she said. “Even when they get to eat junk food, I make sure to let them know that it’s not always the best option for them and too much of it isn’t healthy. I just hope that they’re able to take the lessons they learn here from actual professionals and take them to heart.”

Those lessons are the entire purpose of the event, said Gina Vaughan, CYSS nurse, who was on hand to promote health by providing education for children to get a jump start on healthy living.

“It’s about raising awareness and showing the children what they can do to improve their health,” she said. “Teach them healthy habits now so that they can go ahead and incorporate them in life.”

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