The United States is one of the most unfit countries in the world. Obesity has indirectly led to a national epidemic of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and other health problems. Healthcare costs commensurately are skyrocketing. Physical education has been dropped from nearly all primary and secondary schools throughout the country. However, obesity or fitness is a lifestyle choice and lifestyle choices can be positively impacted.
The United States Olympians and Paralympians Association (USOPA) has begun utilizing the Olympians and Paralympians to promote fitness and the Olympic ideals. Given their exemplary role model for fitness, the Olympians and Paralympians are the perfect group to encourage our children to embrace a lifetime of fitness.
We will attack this problem from the youth up. All of the approximately 7,000 Olympians and Paralympians across the country will be recruited to adopt a school and speak annually to its students about the importance of physical fitness activities and a healthier lifestyle. They will encourage the students to participate in the World Fit Walk, held each spring on campus, where the students, teachers and family walk daily for 6 weeks. They will direct students into organized Olympic sports programs, and encourage them to recruit their teachers, parents and siblings into doing more physical activity. We believe the children can be influential in their parents’ lifestyle choices. If this program reaches its potential size in the United States, between ten and fifteen million young Americans will be reached with a personal inspirational message from an Olympian or Paralympian every year. The impact of this could be significant. Our hope is that the six-week World Fit Walk and the ongoing social networking program on line will promote a continuing commitment to physical activity