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Children navigate through an obstacle course during Nickelodeon’s World Wide Day Of Play in Forest Heights, Md. (Photo credit: Stanley Berry)

Nickelodeon partnered with the Forest Heights’ Healthy Living Program to host the fourth annual World Wide Day Of Play at Forest Heights Elementary School on Sept.26. The event is a health and fitness incentive to get kids involved in outdoor activities, including dancing, hiking, an obstacle race, sports activities, games, and Zumba. Organizers of the event provided healthy snacks, and surprised kids with a special appearance from SpongeBob Square Pants.

“I am delighted that we have received such a great deal of support and generosity from our local businesses, organizations and community members, which have allowed us to host this fun-filled event each year for the children of Forest Heights and the greater Oxon Hill area,” said Healthy Living Program Manager Charmaine Turner. “It is important that our children start learning from an early age to develop healthy habits, which hopefully they will take with them as they grow into adults.”

The program partnered with Backyard Amusements, Clown N Around Children’s Entertainment, iBrush Family Dental Care, and other sponsors to provide residents with access to information and activities regarding nutrition, fitness, eye care, and other resources that help citizens sustain healthy habits.

The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America is an organization dedicated to raising awareness about health and obesity-related issues. According to their 2014 data, 10.1 percent of Maryland adults were diagnosed with diabetes at the time, which ranked them twenty-third in the nation. Additionally, in 2011, 15.1 percent of Maryland children ages 10-17 are obese, which ranked them twenty-first overall in the U.S. Diabetes claimed 194 lives in Prince George’s County in 2012, according to Prince George’s County’s Health Department 2014 report.

Turner said the event has been beneficial for the Forest Heights area, where residents have struggled with health issues over recent years. Turner said diabetes is a major issue affecting seniors and children in the area. “It’s so important that the kids move, and it’s so important for them to know how to eat correctly. So, that’s our focus at the YMCA,” Patricia Taylor, a representative of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington said. “We definitely are all about fighting obesity and all about the kids moving. It’s a great day to be here and be a part of it.”

For more information on health programs in Forest Heights, visit: www.forestheightsmd.gov or call 301-839-1030.

For more information on Maryland obesity rates and health, visit: www.stateofobesity.org/states/md/.