Activ8Kids! Five Day, 360-Mile Tour Across Upstate New York Closes with Celebration at Empire State Plaza

Campaign to Promote Healthy Lifestyles Among Children Highlighted as Part of State Tour

Albany, NY, September 30, 2005 - The New York State Department of Health's Activ8Kids! campaign ended its five-day, 360-mile Promotional Bike Ride and School Recognition Tour across Upstate New York in Albany today at the Empire State Plaza.

New York's Activ8Kids! campaign, developed by Governor George E. Pataki and the State Department of Health, promotes the consumption of at least five (5) fruits and vegetables; participation in at least one hour (1) of physical activity; and no more than two (2) hours of screen-time by children each day.

Today's Plaza event, which was highlighted by WNYT News Channel 13 co-anchor and Health Reporter Benita Zahn as the Master of Ceremonies, included participation by Activ8Kids! ambassadors who completed the bike ride tour and promoted healthy lifestyles among children along the way, children from the Children's Place at the Plaza day care center in Albany and the Farmer's Market. The event also included the presentation of 'Certificates of Achievement' to the 19 Activ8Kids! ambassadors.

The following New York State agencies coordinated with the State Health Department to complete this promotional tour: the Department of Agriculture and Markets; the Office of Tourism; the Department of Education; the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the Department of Transportation; and the Canal Corporation.

"The new Activ8Kids! campaign brings New York to the forefront as one of the first states in the nation to show how changes in food and exercise can be incorporated into daily life and make a tremendous difference in children's lives," State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. said, "Not only is this campaign assisting in reducing the epidemic of obesity and overweight, it is helping in the fight to reduce and prevent chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and arthritis."

"I want to thank all of the State agencies that helped make this promotional tour happen and News 13's Benita Zahn for her participation in the Activ8Kids! Empire State Plaza Event today. Nothing is more precious than the health and safety of our children," Dr. Novello said.

From an educational and historical perspective, New York's Erie Canal system was also highlighted during the Activ8Kids! Promotional Bike Ride and School Recognition Tour. The majority of the bike ride followed New York's Erie Canal trail, with events that took place at elementary schools in Buffalo, Victor, Auburn, Canastota, and Niskayuna, with the final event culminating in Albany.

The following schools were part of the tour to promote the State's Activ8Kids! campaign and the New York's historic Erie Canal:

  • September 26:
  • September 27:
  • September 28:
  • September 29:
  • September 30:
  • September 30:

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that obesity among children and teens nationwide has tripled over the past 25 years, increasing to more than 16 percent in 2004. It is estimated that medical treatment and services for obesity-related illness nationwide costs approximately $117 billion annually. In New York alone, it is estimated that as many as one in five school-aged children are obese.

Existing childhood obesity prevention initiatives that have been consolidated under Activ8Kids! include:

  • Steps to a HealthierNY;
  • Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables;
  • Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance;
  • Minority Health Mini-grants;
  • Eat Well, Play Hard;
  • Healthy Heart;
  • Team Nutrition Training grants; and
  • Obesity Prevention through Physical Activity and Nutrition.

For more information on the Activ8Kids! program and obesity prevention initiatives please visit the Department's web site at www.health.ny.gov. The Department is also encouraging schools statewide to join the State in promoting the Activ8Kids! messages by creating opportunities for students to engage in additional physical fitness activities. Schools that complete the Activ8Kids! participation form will receive a certificate of recognition from the Department and will be recognized as leaders in the promotion on the Department's web site.