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Strong4Life camp aims to show active, healthier lifestyle

July 14,2016 00:11

The goal is to learn how to be more active and have a healthier lifestyle. Watching other campers become more active, or eat more fruits and vegetables often serves as a motivator for some, Abernathy said. The overnight camp started in 2011 and has ...and more »



WINDER — Lizzie Wong remembers what it was like coming to a Strong4Life camp for the first time.“I was really shy, self-conscious and wouldn’t wear a bathing suit in front of other people,” the Acworth teenager said of her first visit to the event at Camp Twin Lakes on the grounds of Fort Yargo State Park.Each year, though, Wong has watched her self-esteem grow, and she’s shared encouragement with younger campers who she said reminded her of herself in those days. She’s become more confident in herself and said the camp now “feels like home.”

“It’s a place where you can come and feel comfortable in your own skin because everyone here is like you and so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about wearing a bathing suit or move slower than other people because we’re all the same,” she said. “Everyone is so supportive.”The camp is put on by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and offered to children ages nine through 17 who are above the 85th percentile for body mass index. Director Christina Abernathy said most children are referred to the camp by their doctor, while others hear about it through other referrals. The goal is to learn how to be more active and have a healthier lifestyle. Watching other campers become more active, or eat more fruits and vegetables often serves as a motivator for some, Abernathy said.The overnight camp started in 2011 and has helped more than 348 families.Some of the activities include extreme capture the flag, silly string tag, passing a ball coated in vaseline and competing in water balloon relays. Campers are also given lessons about the importance of health and wellness.“We try to make everything at camp that’s related to activity fun,” Abernathy said. “So it’s not exercising, it’s not going to a gym, but we can do things like dance or have a fun, play a silly game up here on the ballfield and have fun with it and everybody’s being active.”

Former Shiloh High School and University of Georgia football standout David Pollack attended the camp on Wednesday morning and told the campers that they’re ahead of where he was as a kid in terms of nutrition education. The campers ate baked tilapia on Tuesday night, and Pollack told them that he wouldn’t have known what that was as a kid.Pollack told the campers that he weighed 300 pounds at one point largely because he wasn’t educated about nutrition. Pollack said his nickname was “Chunk” as a kid. He said it wasn’t malicious, and he embraced it.“Once I got older, I didn’t want to take my shirt off in the pool, and I realized how much it impacted me,” he said. “… Then when I got to college, I learned what nutrition and health is about, and then I started implementing it and my life started to change big time. So I think educating them now when they can learn and apply and make it part of their life, then they’ll have a lot more space down the road to be successful with it.”Pollack has been involved with Strong4Life for a couple of years, but this is the first year his family foundation has also taken part. Pollack told the campers repeatedly to change their vocabulary to remove “can’t” because “can’t never could.”

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