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James Burke, director, Youth Sports, Marine Corps Community Services, joins the participants in a warm-up run during the Homeschool Physical Education Program’s weekly class at Desert Winds Golf Course, April 1, 2014. Burke taught golf safety and technique during the class.

Photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria

Healthy Base Initiative supports base-wide healthy lifestyle campaign

2 Apr 2014 | Cpl. Charles Santamaria

“The Healthy Base Initiative is an effort to increase health and wellness across the installation through education, activity and assessment,” said Brad Brimhall, director, Semper Fit, MCCS.

MCCS’ Semper Fit division is supporting the initiative by implementing more youth sports, fitness testing and fitness based activities for families aboard the base. One such program is the Homeschool Physical Education Program which hosts a weekly class for children aboard the Combat Center who receive home schooling.

“The physical education program we started begins with a warm-up exercise then lets kids experience a different sport every month with one class a week,” said James Burke, youth sports director, MCCS. “The class actually brings coaches, who are familiar with the sport, teach the fundamentals, and at the end of the month, we move to another sport.”

These new programs give children an opportunity to experience sports like rock climbing and golf. As the program progresses, more elements will be added. This includes classes on nutrition and setting goals.

“It’s great to see my boys excited to participate every week,” said (Ret.) Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Perez. “The program breaks up the normal routine and exposes them to many different sports which give a lot of opportunities to find something else they may like. It also builds family structure because they get to interact with other children and it teaches them about healthy living which sets them up for success.”

Other programs like Tobacco Cessation and HITT also promote healthy lifestyles by educating service members on tobacco use and exercise. The Healthy Base Initiative will be introducing several programs to promote a healthy lifestyle for not just children but the whole family.

“The initiative is to encourage healthier choices in everything from diets to the way units exercise and educate themselves on nutrition,” Brimhall said. “I would like to see more units use the HITT program which not only provides workout programs similar to those used by professional athletes but classes that inform participants on proper technique and workout routines.”

Fitness tests will begin in on-base youth sports programs to gauge the impact they have on the youth. In basketball, soccer and football youth leagues, Approximately 435 children from the ages of six to 10 have participated in fitness tests. At the end of each season, the participants will conduct the same test to see how they have improved.

“It’s good that this initiative is encouraging healthy choices starting from the youth all the way to the parents and service members,” Burke said. “I’m looking forward to seeing even more improvement and support for the initiative and its goal to make a healthier base.”

Albeit the Healthy Base initiative has already began, MCCS is always finding way to spread the word of healthy living and will continue to improve facilities and programs to support health and wellness.

“The goal is to give service members and their families the tools and the opportunities to make healthy decisions,” Brimhall said. “If world-class athletes can have top-of-the-line programs, facilities and equipment, why can’t the service members who defend our nation have the same.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms