Army Events Promote Youth Fitness

Boot camp-style fitness classes have become popular over the past few years, but last week, students at a Wisconsin high school had a chance to have a more authentic military fitness experience.

About 40 U.S. Army soldiers visited Fond du Lac High School and put students through the paces of a military workout as part of a new community relations program sponsored by U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Milwaukee. The Pathways to Success program focuses on reducing childhood obesity.

An estimated 1,000 or more students participated in the free program. Similar events are planned at other schools in the area.

Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Hohmann, a station commander at the Milwaukee Recruiting Battalion, told the local Fox TV affiliate, Fox 11, that the program is a means for serving the community, not for recruiting.

Although the Pathways to Success program does not aim to find new recruits, encouraging physical fitness in young adults is one of the Army’s current concerns. In 2009, a report by a group of retired armed forces leaders revealed that 27 percent of the country’s youths were not physically fit to serve in the military, and obesity was the primary disqualifier.

Other Army events are addressing the obesity issue at an even younger age. Earlier this month, Fort Hood (TX) held a fitness event for children of the local Venable Village Elementary School. The event was held in conjunction with Michelle Obama’s national Let’s Move initiative, which promotes a healthy, active lifestyle for children. The first lady was briefed on the consequences of childhood obesity and lack of physical exercise on the military’s recruitment efforts during a January visit to U.S. Army training center Fort Jackson (SC).

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