Redskins, YMCA and United Way fight against childhood obesity


When Washington Redskin linebacker Matt Sinclair jumped back and forth in the interactive gym, following a computerized screen, it was obvious that computer games and exercise had entered the same arena. The exercise was part of the Hometown Huddle program which is a community service youth fitness program between the United Way, the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the YMCA to combat childhood obesity. Nearly 100 Alexandria children looked on at the Alexandria YMCA on Oct 9, as a group of Redskins tried out the exercises, stressing the importance to stay active.

The computer game used all the lateral movement, very relevant to things I do at linebacker, Sinclair said. Theyre having fun and have no idea theyre helping themselves, he added. On the other side of the room, Redskins Chris Wilson and Alex Buzbee tried out the dance-dance revolution mats, while Catrina Carter looked on. Carter is a senior associate at the United Way office in Alexandria.

Its awesome exercise, she said.

The interactive gym was divided into four areas for children who participate in YMCA Alexandrias after-school and Physical Healthy Driven programs. In one area there were interactive computer games; in another team oriented games, then yoga and a nutrition center. The equipment, paid for by the Redskins and United Way, will be available at the YMCA for all the children in the community. Officials kicked off the program simultaneously with a handful of similar programs across the state to combat childhood obesity.

This is a great way to raise awareness, said Margaux Bergen, a United Way official.

Were here because we want our kids to live longer, healthier lives, added Brian Pham, United Ways NFL Partnership Coordinator.

Lee Torrence was the fourth Redskin, and the players were accompanied by Redskin cheerleaders, aka Redskinettes, Jessica and Heather, who only went by their first name. Jessica is also a teacher at Cora Kelly Elementary School, and looked out at all the children in the gym. Some of these are my students, she said.

Ladaysha Lucas, 7, from Mt. Vernon Elementary, was caught up in the cheerleading aura while jumping on the jog trampoline. We are cheerleaders, she said.

Angie Reese Hawkins, the president of the Washington, D.C. Metro area YMCAs, was on hand to kick off the event. The very core of our mission is all about kids, she said.

In addition to actually breaking a sweat, the children were introduced to yoga and a nutrition lesson, led by Tazima Davis, the YMCAs nutritionist. Davis was throwing fruit into a blender and giving out smoothies that were full of antioxidants. More good stuff, more vitamins and minerals, she said.

The lessons are sinking in, Davis said, and many times theyll suggest to their parents to check these [nutritious foods] out, she added.