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Tackling obesity in local kids: a program that trains the brain to get physically fit

Posted at 6:20 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 19:20:34-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The struggle to lose weight. It's an ongoing battle for countless children in the Coastal Bend.

So just how bad of a problem is it?

Here in Texas, about one in every five children between the ages of 10 through 17 are obese. Some are genetically pre-disposed while others are eating too much, not exercising enough (if at all), and often times, parents are not helping their children.

But now there's a program that helps kids get their brain on track to get physically fit.

By utilizing the program, Kids Get Fit, 10-year-old Serenity and 8-year-old Amia are on the road to good health, but it wasn't always like this.

"I was like, oh no, I am not doing it,” Amia recalls when her mother first told her about the program.

Her sister, Serenity, telling us, “It was challenging to get off my sweet tea, chips and soda.”

But it wasn’t just food. The two sisters faced other challenges like asthma, allergies, and even doctors’ recommendations got them nowhere.

Ashley Capa of Kids Get Fits practices mindfulness and yoga with the two young girls

Their mother, Cynthia Gonzales told us, the health challenges began even before the two were born.

"Because we were not raised exercising,” Gonzales said. She told us the family focused on food.

"Well for us, food was a reward,” Gonzales said. “Coming up in the projects, my grandmother didn't have a lot, but what she could do, is she could take flour and make some cookies, and so it became the reward.”

But these days, the rewards are now changing.

"It is changing the lives of our future, our children,” said Ashley Capa, mindfulness instructor at Kids Get Fit.

"Most of the time when people overindulge, it's out of habit,” Capa said. “It's out of boredom.”

But Kids Get Fit works on getting rid of those bad habits. The program is not just about eating and exercising. It also revolves around other practices, like mindfulness.

"Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose,” Capa explains, meaning taking care of a child's mental health, including meditating, respecting oneself, creating boundaries, and utilizing programs like yoga. That’s in addition to nutrition and fitness.

"Because when you become mindful of not only yourself, it immediately changes the way you think about how you want to feed yourself, how you want to carry yourself,” Cappa told us. “Once they see the shift mentally in how they feel, that aligns with you want your entire body to feel good.”

One of the secrets, Capa says, is getting the entire family involved.

"Because that's really when change happens, right, when everyone's onboard and they do it as a team.”

Amia and Serenity’s mother told us the program has been an answer to her prayers.

“We all know that losing weight, staying healthy is not always easy but it's necessary,” she explained.

We wanted to know how Amia and Serenity felt both mentally and physically as they continue to practice the program.

“I felt happy,” Serenity told us. "I felt joyful.”

The focus on healthy living may be changing but some things just remain the same.

"We believe in coming together and breaking bread, if I may, and now we all realize that's just not the way,” Gonzales told us. “There is a better way.”

A better way to live a long, healthier life, she says, at any age.

As for the concept of mindfulness, Capa says there's a lot of misconceptions surrounding it. She says when you're in the moment, you can find ways to incorporate that into your kids' habits.

As for Kids Get Fit, they started in 2014 working with the Boys & Girls Club. Since then, they have worked with 22 schools and about 2,600 kids. They’ve also started working with the Diocese of Corpus Christi and due to the success rate, they’re now teaming up with Driscoll Children's Hospital.

For more information on the Kids Get Fit program, you can click here.