Fundraiser for fitness to be held

COVINGTON - Volunteers of The Sojourner Truth Observational Study Hometel Inc. are holding a fundraiser to educate the public on the dangers of being overweight and obese.

The fundraiser will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. June 17, at the Covington Housing Authority basketball court, at 5160 Alcovy Road in Covington.

The event will raise money for a specialized summer camp program targeting childhood obesity. Themed Tailor-Made To Fitness, the summer camp will provide approximately 100 children with an opportunity to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle while having fun at the same time.

The camp itself begins Monday and ends July 17. This gives summer youth employees an opportunity to work for at least five weeks.

"We would like to be instrumental in putting some people back to work in Newton County," said Lillian Bittaye, founder of Sojourner Truth Observational Study Hometel Inc.

The camp will include educational presentations and youth-led demonstrations that will highlight the dangers and risks associated with being obese. There will also be healthy snack and nutrition demonstrations from the Learning Center titled "Love Spoonfuls," as well as outdoor intramural sport activities, games and relays. They also plan to put together a team of children to compete in one of the leagues at the Turner Lake Complex this fall.

This is the third summer the Sojourner Truth Observational Study Hometel Inc. program is holding a summer program, Bittaye said.

"Last year, we enrolled in the 50 Million Pound Challenge program. Children enrolled were required to take a complete walk around their own neighborhood each morning as our beginning exercise activity."

The Sojourner Truth Observational Study Hometel Inc. is a nonprofit, community-based outreach program that offers services to youth and parents. Some of their services include adolescent services, missing/run away youth assistance, family support services, grief support, parental education and on-call/on-site child care.

In the past, General Mills provided the summer camp with a special curriculum that was incorporated into the daily schedule of activities, named Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, as well as a program from the Washington Street Community Center, coined What Moves U from the Atlanta Falcons.

"We are still believing and expecting them (the programs) to be as successful as they've always been, in spite of the economic status we are dealing with today," Bittaye said.

Tina Douglas, a board member and employee of a local news station, says that although the summer program allows an outlet for community youth, it is in jeopardy of occurring this year.

"Children rely on the afternoon programs we run, but it costs money," she said.

Donations can be made at the fundraiser by sponsoring a child for $16 a week, or for the whole five weeks session for $80. Donations can also be made through the Web site at www.letthechildrenlive.net by clicking PayPal. All donations are tax deductible.