“To keep myself physically strong” has been part of the oath that Boy Scouts have followed for more than 100 years. Even with fitness and wellness already one of its aims, the Boy Scouts of America is making a formal commitment to do even more to address the major health concerns facing today’s youth. Today in San Antonio, at its Top Hands Conference of Scouting professionals, the organization launched a new healthy-living initiative called SCOUTStrong.
SCOUTStrong was kicked off by announcing a collaboration with the President’s Challenge, the premier program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN), resulting in a Scout-specific Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) challenge. The organization hopes more than 500,000 youth will achieve the SCOUTStrong PALA by 2013, the year of the BSA’s next national Scout jamboree. PCFSN members, including council co-chair Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, and Cornell McClellan, trainer to the First Family, congratulate the BSA on this initiative and will share fitness and health tips in the BSA youth publication Boys’ Life.
“The Boy Scouts are a perfect example of an organization that teaches the importance of physical activity at an early age,” said Shellie Pfohl, executive director of the President’s Council. “We believe that the SCOUTStrong program will help enable Scouts, as well as their families, to adopt active, healthy lifestyles. The skills they’re learning from this program will last them a lifetime.”
Research shows that children today spend less time outdoors and more time engaged in sedentary activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The SCOUTStrong program is designed to be a starting point for creating regular, active lifestyle habits and teaching young people to make healthier choices. The SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge award can be earned by Scouts as well as families, volunteers, staff, and scouting alumni.
To earn the SCOUTStrong PALA, children need to be active 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks; adults need 30 minutes a day. In the spirit of promoting a more active lifestyle among its professional staff, the BSA has organized a Sunrise Fun Run/Walk as part of its Top Hands meeting.
“We have an opportunity—and importantly, a responsibility—to shape young lives,” BSA Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca said. “Because of our reach, our programs, and our mission, Scouting is uniquely positioned to make a real difference on the health front. During our next 100 years of service, one of our top priorities will be to advocate for the health of all children.”
Preceding the launch of the SCOUTStrong PALA Challenge, 16 BSA adult leaders agreed to participate in their own PALA Challenge to show they are “walking the walk” when it comes to being more active. During the BSA Adult Leadership Walk-the-Walk Activity Challenge, participants committed to earning their PALA, as well as publicly blogging about their journey to a healthier lifestyle. The Walk-the-Walk Challenge participants’ blogs can be found at www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BSAFit/walkthewalk.aspx.
Participants in the Walk-the-Walk Challenge include BSA National Commissioner Tico Perez, who has announced he plans to meet the BSA’s high-adventure height and weight requirements by the 2013 National Scout Jamboree—and he’s well on his way after already losing more than 100 pounds.
“The SCOUTStrong program was an opportunity to look at our organization, and ourselves as individuals, and recognize that we can be doing even more,” Perez said. “I knew that personally, I could be a better role model for other Scouting volunteers and the youth we serve. Improving the health of today’s kids is a huge challenge that no single organization can tackle alone, but the BSA is prepared to step up and be a partner with local communities in the solution.”
This year, following its 100th Anniversary Celebration in 2010, the BSA is rolling out its new brand identity: Prepared. For Life.™ It recognizes that participation in Scouting prepares youth for a lifetime of good citizenship, personal achievement, character, and service. Encouraging the physical, mental, and emotional health of its members is one important way the BSA is fulfilling the promise of Prepared. For Life.™
About the Boy Scouts of America:
The Boy Scouts of America provides the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be Prepared. For Life.™ The Scouting organization is composed of 2.7 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and more than a million volunteers in nearly 300 local councils throughout the United States and its territories. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit http://www.scouting.org/.
About the President ’ s Challenge:
The President’s Challenge is the premier program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The President’s Challenge helps people of all ages and abilities increase their physical activity and improve their fitness through research-based information, easy-to-use tools, and friendly motivation. For more information about the President’s Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program or the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, visit www.presidentschallenge.org
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