Light of Chance Promotes Healthier Living, Battles Childhood Obesity with Get Set Go

February 12, 2012 | General

During this age of technology where children spend more time playing video games, listening to music on their ipods and interacting through social networking websites, rather than engaging in physical activity, it’s no wonder that kids these days aren’t quite as physically fit as the children of yesteryear.

In 2008, Eric Logan considered adding a wellness program to his thriving nonprofit organization, Light of Chance, Inc., which had already garnered a great reputation and strong track record for service to the community with events like the Annual Dust Bowl, Save the Dream Credit and Debt Management Program and its signature event, Aspire.

The concept for a wellness program was suggested to him by Western Kentucky University’s head track coach, Erik Jenkins, but with Logan’s time and energy being poured into other areas of Light of Chance, the idea for a wellness program would be put on the backburner. It would be an entire year before he would begin his research. To his surprise, he learned that childhood obesity is a huge epidemic in America and that Kentucky was ranked third in the country.

It was after making this alarming discovery that Logan became more motivated to make his wellness program a reality. After further research, consultation and planning, Logan set his goal into motion. The result was, Get Set Go, a free, fun and comprehensive health initiative that encourages youth, grades K-8, to become more active and healthy through nutrition and physical activity. Get Set Go strives to increase youth physical activity and show them how to make healthier eating choices in their existing environment. The program also seeks to combat the overwhelming epidemic of childhood obesity.

Logan launched the pilot program for Get Set Go at Western Kentucky University in 2010 with the support of Coach Jenkins and WKU’s track staff and team members.  Logan and his supporters urged parents in the community to bring their children to participate in the program after school, which yielded successful results.

This year, in effort to increase the number of participants in the program, Logan changed his approach. Instead of trying to get children to come to him, which proved to be an uphill battle, Logan took his program to the children.

He partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to provide Get Set Go during its program on Mondays and Wednesdays and with Bowling Green Parks and Recreation on Thursdays. WKU’s Exercise Science Club, the Finish Line Youth Foundation and the Barren River District Health Department all partner and actively participate in the program. With what Logan refers to as a “built-in audience” Get Set Go now services over 150 children on a weekly basis.

Get Set Go engages participants in physical activity, teaches them about nutrition and promotes an overall healthier lifestyle – mentally, physically and emotionally.

“We deal with the entire kid, not just physical activity, not just nutrition, but the emotional aspect as well,” says Logan.

Children participate in both traditional and nontraditional physical exercises such as zumba, aerobics, dance, greek stepping, yoga, kickboxing and more. They also learn new and healthier ways to eat and prepare food. The children work together to prepare a healthy and delicious snack.

“We listen to what the kids want,” Logan says. “We try not to make it like school. We make it real interactive. We make it fun. It’s a great balance between fun and effectiveness.”

Get Set Go also extends to parents. The program offers the Family Learning Kitchen, where the renowned Chef David Owens teaches parents and children how to make healthier versions of traditional meals.

Get Set Go has also aligned itself with WKU’s Family Resource Program, to provide counseling sessions to address issues such as self-esteem and body image with participants. Counseling services are also made available to families – something Logan considers to be an important component to the program.

“It takes a family effort. Kids need support systems because in this day and age, statistics
show living a healthy lifestyle is not the norm. The obesity epidemic is affecting the entire family, not just the kids,” Logan says.

He adds, “As parents, if we do not join the fight against obesity, our entire family life is in serious
danger. Get Set Go is a program that we can all benefit from.”

Logan says he would ultimately like to see Get Set Go change lives and dispel myths that healthy foods do not taste good. He would also like to see the program gain national attention and become a model for which other wellness programs are based.  Logan also has his sights set on launching Get Set Go in other cities, beginning with Nashville, as early as next year.

When asked how the program has changed his own life, Logan says that he’s more educated and aware but admits that he still struggles with making healthier choices. For him, just like anyone else, it’s a process.

“I’m learning right along with the kids,” he says. “We’re learning and growing together.”

- Written By: Shawn Whitsell

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