The University of Northern Iowa’s Youth Fitness and Obesity Institute is kicking off an effort to teach kids how to be more fit. Wednesday the institute unveiled a new, 10-minute-long video that features a cartoon character named Hal and 32-year-old Joey Woody, a former U-N-I track stand-out who won a silver medal in the 400-hurdles at the 2003 world championships. The cartoon monkey and the real-life track star talk to kids about increasing their activity level by playing with friends or helping out around the house. Woody says the goal is to encourage kids in the area to lead healthier, more active lifestyles. “The mission: to improve the health and well-being among families, both parents and kids, by promoting regular physical activity and healthy eating habits,” Woody says. Woody lives in Cedar Falls and serves as an assistant coach of U-N-I’s track team. He was the 1997 N-C-double-A champion in the 400 hurdles. Larry Hensley, executive director of U-N-I’s Youth Fitness and Obesity Institute, spoke to students from Cedar Heights Elementary in Cedar Falls yesterday. Each kid was given a D-V-D of the video. Every elementary school within a 25-mile radius of Cedar Falls is getting the D-V-D, too. The target audience is kids between the ages of five and 11 — and their parents. A recent U-S-A Today article concluded 16 percent of all U.S. children are already overweight.
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