Teen working toward children’s fitness

Published 4:08 pm Friday, July 10, 2009

A local teen recently told the Kiwanis Club how her involvement with the Miss America organization has inspired her to spread awareness about the issue childhood obesity.

Maggie Bridges, a rising junior at Southwest Georgia Academy, has been participating in scholarship pageants since she was 8 years old.

This past June, she finished second runner-up in the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen pageant.

The daughter of John and Cathy Bridges of Brinson, Miss Bridges became eligible for the statewide pageant after being named Miss Southern Rivers’ Outstanding Teen this past year.

Through her involvement in the pageants, Bridges chose her platform as “Building Tomorrow’s Lifestyles”—encouraging everyone to be active, especially children and young adults.

She said statistics show children who are obese are more likely to be at risk for heart problems, diabetes, knee pain, migraines and other illnesses later on in life. They also may have a reduced quality of life, impaired social skills, lower self-esteem and self-confidence.

However, though the problem of obesity is widespread in America, there are solutions for achieving a healthier lifestyle, Bridges said.

Adults can encourage children to be active by playing outdoors and making healthier food choices. Bridges said she believes high schools should require physical education classes through graduation.

People can also sponsor events to get children outdoors and active; Bridges said she is planning to organize a run/walk event to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network, a charity that raises money for pediatric hospitals.

For more information about the issue of overweight and obesity in children, people may visit the Centers for Disease Control’s Web site on the topic at www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/, calling (800) CDC-INFO (232-4636) or e-mailing cdcinfo@cdc.gov