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Special to The Dallas Examiner | 7/17/2017, 1:23 p.m.
Summer is here, and for many children in Dallas County that means long hours of inactivity, too much TV and ...

Special to The Dallas Examiner

DALLAS

Summer is here, and for many children in Dallas County that means long hours of inactivity, too much TV and munching unhealthy snacks.

But for hundreds of children, summer is a time of learning about nutrition, exercise and healthy choices at Camp CHAMPS, an annual program of Parkland Health and Hospital System. CHAMPS stand for Choosing Healthy Activities, Meals and Positive Self-esteem, and it provides an opportunity for children to take part in camps at various locations throughout Dallas County this summer.

“For a lot of our kids, Camp CHAMPS will be the only chance they have to participate in organized learning and exercise activities during the summer,” said Jeff Howard, Parkland Community Development Specialist. “Many of these kids would be at home on the couch, watching TV or playing video games.”

The camp seeks to get the children involved in physical activities, as well as learning about making healthy choices.

The percentage of obese children in the United States has tripled since the 1970s. Children who are obese have higher rates of chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Howard emphasized that the camp, which is free and open to children 7 to 16 years of age, is a great way for girls and boys to learn about positive, healthy habits.

“I think Camp CHAMPS is an excellent program,” said Jean Lamberty, whose two grandchildren previously attended Camp CHAMPS. “Both children (ages 10 and 7 at the time) learned a lot, and the sessions on self-esteem and bullying were particularly helpful. The focus on healthy eating and benefits of exercise also left a big impression on them.”

The sessions for parents, which Lamberty attended, also provided valuable information.

“The parent group was important because we all saw that we were on the same page, we wanted our children to be healthy and to lose weight, if they needed to,” she said.

The camp is organized as a four-day camp in each of the locations. Parkland physicians, educators, social workers and dietitians are on hand to provide valuable educational activities and services. Each day during the camp is dedicated to teaching a different element of a healthy lifestyle. The campers rotate through four classes that focus on health, nutrition, self-esteem and physical exercise. Children also will be screened and evaluated by physicians and nurses for any previously undetected conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, high body mass index and high blood pressure.

“The main focus of Camp CHAMPs is to help kids learn healthy behaviors, from exercise to nutrition and life skills. They learn through different activities and games so it’s a lot of fun, as well. You can never start too early to teach kids about making good choices,” Howard said.

The camp will be held:

• June 12 to 15 at Gospel Lighthouse Church, 5525 W. Illinois Ave.