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Healthy Bodies: Parks & Rec keeping youth active

Photo by Jeylin White                           
Brianna Braddock, (front) Nicholas Lykes, (left) and Myles Lewis (right) strike a pose before starting a new game of  kickball. The youngsters attend “All For One” summer camp hosted by Clayton County Parks and Recreation.

Photo by Jeylin White Brianna Braddock, (front) Nicholas Lykes, (left) and Myles Lewis (right) strike a pose before starting a new game of kickball. The youngsters attend “All For One” summer camp hosted by Clayton County Parks and Recreation.

JONESBORO — Reise McDaniel, 18, has been attending Clayton County Parks and Recreation summer camp “All For One” from the time he was 6 years old.

“I like sports and staying active a lot,” said McDaniel, whose journey with the camp, his many hours of volunteering and the lessons he learned on leadership opened the door for him to be employed as counselor.

“I listened a lot when I was camper on what my counselors had to say, about being a leader and the importance of being active,” said McDaniel. “Now, the things I have learned I can now teach my campers.”

The “All for One” camp, being held at three Clayton County Parks and Recreation locations through July 27, is about getting kids to stay active, eating healthy and putting away the video games — ideas which are getting more attention than ever, now that First Lady Michelle Obama is using her position to emphasize them. Henry County’s parks and recreation is also hosting a youth summer camp offering similar actives through Aug. 4.

McDaniel said his top priority is always to teach his campers to stay involved in physical activity, from playing a variety of sports and swimming, to learning how to eat healthy. In fact, he said this year’s motto is “Let’s Move,” an initiative inspired by the First Lady.

“Our generation is all about technology,” said McDaniel. “I never see kids outside anymore. They’re always inside playing games.”

Shacole Pearman, recreation coordinator for Clayton County Parks and Recreation, said any technology or video games are forbidden at camp. “If myself or the counselors see any video games, we take them away,” said Pearman. “We want to keep [campers] running and active.”

Jordyn Harp, 10, and Julian Grant, 11, agreed they have been enjoying this year’s summer camp.

“Who wants to be at home all day, sitting around doing nothing?” said Grant.

The duo said the best part is being able to make new friends and brush up on their athletic skills, especially in basketball.

“I love basketball,” said Grant. “That’s like my main sport.”

“My older brother and sister played basketball,” said Harp. “It’s something that runs through the family.”

Pearman said each week campers are given a different challenge to push the camp’s motto. “I may have a healthy eating challenge and ask the [camper] to give up soda or increase your exercises for the week,” she said.

“Usually, the kids are pretty good about [completing the challenge].”

Harp and Grant said they enjoy the challenges and what they’re learning about making healthier choices with foods.

“It gives me more energy when I eat healthy,” said Grant. “I last longer when I play sports.”

McDaniel said his history with parks and recreations camps built his stamina as an athlete and sharpened his techniques in baseball. McDaniel said he has been offered baseball scholarships from several colleges, but he has not made a decision where he will be attending.

“I’m very grateful,” he said. “This camp has helped shape my future.”

Pearman said Clayton County Parks and Recreation offers several classes throughout the year to youth and adults.

“Our overall initiative is to get the community involved with being active and healthy,” said Pearman.