SHAPE Celebrates Children’s Day at State Capitol

January 30, 2014

Georgia has 2.4 million extremely valuable assets -- its children.

DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., joined Georgia chefs and other children's health advocates at the State Capitol.

On Jan. 23, more than 20 organizations came together at the State Capitol to celebrate them on Children’s Day, an opportunity to advocate for the health, safety and education of children across the state.

Georgia SHAPE, Gov. Nathan Deal’s program for fighting childhood obesity, joined the celebration, along with Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

"None of us wants to see our children suffer the effects of being overweight or obese. They are our future," Fitzgerald said. "That's why it's so important that we help them do the right things right now -- get more physically active, eat more fruits and vegetables and limit screen time."

Lawmakers and visitors to the Capitol were given the chance to learn more about SHAPE programs, including Power Up for 30, a program that encourages elementary schools to include 30 extra minutes of physical activity to the school day for every child. The attendees also played fun, interactive games at the SHAPE booth and watched the latest SHAPE video, showing how Power Up for 30 has made difference for students and teachers at Sope Creek Elementary School in Marietta, Ga.

This was the third annual observance of Children’s Day at the Capitol. The event is sponsored by Voices for Georgia’s Children, a nonprofit child policy and advocacy organization established in 2003. The goal of the event is to draw legislators’ attention to issues affecting children. In a given session of Georgia’s General Assembly, legislators file more than 2,000 bills in the House and Senate; according to Voices for Georgia’s Children, more than 200 of those bills in recent years have been specific to children.

“Children are citizens without a vote so we must be their voice,” said Pat Willis, executive director of Voices for Georgia’s Children, in a press release.  “Children’s Day at the Capitol is meant to highlight the many bills that address the specific interests of children but also to ask our lawmakers to think about the impact every vote they make has on the children of their district.”

Improving the health of Georgia’s children by reducing childhood obesity has been the primary mission of Georgia SHAPE since the program’s creation in 2011. Georgia ranks 17th in the nation for childhood obesity, third in the nation for overweight children and 10th in the nation when both factors are combined. With a focus on good nutrition and making physical activity a regular, fun part of everyday life, the program is working to help Georgia’s children become more physically fit and active.

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