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Jonesboro youth embracing health, fitness

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Ronni Christina Wells learned from a young age the importance of taking care of her health.

Wells, an 8-year-old from Jonesboro, has been going to the gym with her father, Ronnie, since she was 3. It began with running. The two now work out on weight machines as a father-daughter team.

Last week, Ronni reached the point where she could run at a four-mile-per-hour pace on a treadmill for 10 minutes. She also can also lift 30 pounds on the leg press machine at Hoops and Fitness in Jonesboro.

"You should exercise, so you can have more muscles, and win more games, and be healthier," said the youngster.

Wells, a third-grader at Kemp Elementary School, recently wrote a book on fitness and nutrition, entitled "Kids Eat Free." It pulls together knowledge she gained from her trips to the gym.

In the book, Ronni encourages other children to engage in several activities, such as drinking water, eating fruits and vegetables, engaging in exercise, and playing sports.

"All she drinks is water," said her dad. "Maybe she'll have the occasional soda, but it's usually water. She makes me drink it, too," he added.

Ronni's recommendations about exercise and playing sports are what she said she plans to follow for years to come. She said she is going to continue working out three to four days a week as she moves into her teen years.

"I like to workout my knees and arms, so they can get stronger," Ronni said.

The health conscious youngster, who weighs 73 pounds, and is 4 feet, 7 inches tall, now jokes with her father about how fit he is.

"She called me fat the other day, and I thought I was skinny, because I weigh 170 pounds, and I'm 6-foot-2," said a laughing Ronnie Wells.

Ronni Christina said she plans to continue an interest in basketball. Her goal is to play guard on the women's basketball team at the Georgia Institute of Technology, because "the guard gets to dribble a lot."

The younger Wells credits some of her health awareness to her mother, Conchata Wells, a nurse at DeKalb County Medical Center. She has spent the last year teaching her daughter about eating nutritious foods. The results have been an appreciation for several different types of food, such as broccoli and cheese soup, but tangerines have quickly become her favorite food.

"They taste like oranges, and they are sweet," she said.

The youngster said she now understands the concept that nutrition and fitness go hand-in-hand.

"Nutrition and fitness are important because nutrition is healthy, and you have to exercise to be healthy," Ronni said.

"Kids Eat Free," can be purchased for $5.95 on www.discounts4kids.com, the web site set up to coincide with the book.