JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A local organization is tackling the problem of obesity in children by reaching out to parents and local government officials.
They hope a town meeting at Battlefield Park will empower residents to change their lives.
Jump Start Jackson, a project of My Brother's Keeper Inc., is calling on the community to take action to combat childhood obesity by educating parents about healthy lifestyle choices.
Shemeka Palmer attended to learn more about tools that she can share with her 6 year old.
"I want my son to have a long and healthy life therefore I need to teach him healthy ways of living so that he'll be here for a while, and he'll be able to teach his kids the same thing," said Palmer.
Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham and Jackson City Councilman and school principal Tony Yarber joined Ralph Arrington of the Alcorn State University Extension Service to share their success stories in getting park improvements for free exercise and planting gardens to teach children about work and nutrition.
Melanie Calvert Benton lost 111 pounds and came to encourage others.
Benton struggled with obesity most of her life and said kids must get moving.
Benton has a web site fatkat.us that chronicles her weight loss and health issues.
"I know how it hurts when people pick on you and call you ugly, fat, all the condescending names. Let's go hunting or something. Let's get out in the woods and go walking or let's go do something. Just get up and move and watch what you're eating," said Benton.
Organizers say parents must set an example and doing so is simple.
"When you're going Christmas shopping and you're at Northpark Mall or Metrocenter Park farther away and walk instead of riding around for five minutes looking for the closest parking space. There are little changes you can do. Change your diet," said Tonitrice Wicks of Jump Start Jackson.
The organization reports that 40% of children in the capital city grades three through 12 are obese or overweight.
These children could develop diabetes, as well as heart and other health problems if changes aren't made soon.
Jump Start Jackson is also starting a community garden in Washington Addition to promote healthy eating.
For more information about the garden or the organization call Tonitrice Wicks at 601-957-3625 extension 111.
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