DANVILLE — The HALO Project, Danville Public School Foundation and Danville school district are teaming up to bring a nationally-known nutrition and fitness expert and motivational speaker to Danville to help in the fight against childhood obesity .
Zonya Foco  — a registered dietitian, certified health and fitness instructor, author, TV host and national speaker — will be the guest speaker at a community-wide forum on childhood obesity, sponsored by HALO, one of United Samaritans Medical Center Foundation's outreach programs.
The forum is from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium at Danville High School, 202 E. Fairchild St. It is free, open to the public and does not require registration.
Audience members have a chance to win door prizes, and information on childhood obesity and Danville Let's Move Initiative for Childhood Obesity will be available.
"This is not just a Danville event. It's for anyone in Vermilion County, Champaign County, western Indiana who wants to come and get inspired and ideas on how to live a healthier lifestyle," HALO Director Kathy Richard said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three children in America is overweight. Children who are obese are at greater risk for associated adult health problems such as heart disease, type II diabetes and stroke at much younger ages. Without changes to their diet, today's children will be the first generation to not outlive their parents.
Richard said those startling statistics prompted HALO officials to launch the Danville Let's Move Initiative for Childhood Obesity, modeled after First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative to fight childhood obesity by "putting children on a healthy path to a healthy future."
"One of the goals of the coalition's strategic plan is to have a community-wide forum every year because the first step in addressing the problem is to learn about the problem and talk about it," Richard said.
At the forum, coalition members — which include area medical professionals; Danville schools Superintendent Mark Denman, Food Service Director Greg Lazzell and Northeast Elementary Magnet School Principal Cheryl McIntire; and other volunteers — will give a short presentation on the initiative's mission and goals. They also will talk about the community's five mine areas of focus — breast feeding, gardens at home and school, exercise at home and school, school cafeteria foods and education — and hope to encourage audience members to serve on a committee or in other ways.
Then Foco will take center stage from 7 to 8 p.m.
"It's not going to be a tried-and-dried 'Here's a lecture on how to be healthy,'" Richard said. Foco teaches families "the hard facts" of good nutrition and give them simple solutions for incorporating healthy habits into their lives through her entertaining and educational presentations.
"She's dynamic. She's funny. She's interactive, and she will bring people up on stage," Richard said of Foco, who hosts the weekly series "Zonya's Health Bites" on national public television and is the author of the "Lickety-Split Meals" and "Lickety-Split Diabetic Meals" cookbooks. She also has been a guest presenter for "Oprah & Bob's Best Life Challenge," appeared on local newscasts across the country, nationally-syndicated daytime talk shows and QVC and has contributed to numerous magazines.
On Thursday, Foco will present programs geared toward students, to North Ridge and South View middle schoolers in the morning and Danville High School students in the afternoon. Those programs are being sponsored by Danville Public School Foundation and school district.
"We're hoping that parents will hear her at the forum," Richard said. "Then, parents and their children can sit down as a family and discuss what they've heard and what they need to do in their lives to help them become healthier. It's really important for the parents to be involved so they can be role models for their children."