An innovative healthy living program for kids conducted by college baseball players has been pronounced a success as it heads into its final session.
“Attendance has been really good. We’ve had about 450 kids in the program, which is fantastic for us,” Mankato MoonDogs General Manager Greg Weis said of the three-week program for children going into kindergarten through seventh grade.
MoonDogs Fit, co-sponsored by the summer collegiate Northwoods League baseball team and Minnesota Valley Federal Credit Union, has been promoting healthy living and eating this summer at several elementary school sites in the community.
About 20 MoonDogs players have been serving as mentor/teachers under the auspices of ACES, a child care program of Mankato Area Public Schools Community Education and Recreation Department.
“I thought that working with the kids was a great experience,” MoonDogs outfielder Zack Zehner said. “It gave us a chance to teach them about fitness and healthy eating, which wasn’t really important when we were children.”
The program, which will conclude Thursday, incorporates outdoor fitness sessions with indoor lessons on proper nutrition. Weis said players follow a teaching curriculum provided by ACES that includes tutorials on healthy eating choices.
“They do a quiz — what’s healthier, ice cream or yogurt, milk or soda?”
And the fact that the lessons are coming from athletes the kids look up to certainly helps the information stick, said Ben Suker, project coordinator for Minnesota Valley.
“These are things their moms and dads say, and this (players’ instruction) just reinforces what they say.”
Weis said the program was inspired by a similar effort he helped coordinate during his internship with the Minnesota Lynx professional women’s basketball team.