A walkathon was organised to create awareness among children on the need for exercise.

A couple of decades ago when television was a luxury and the computer was some kind of curious object parked in the confines of the lab room, holidays meant a day out in the sun. Times have changed.

These days no one bothers with playing outdoors. And holidays are spent more or less inside with television and computer games. No wonder then that children and obesity are mentioned in the same breath.

Need for fitness

It was to create awareness about the perils of such a lifestyle and the importance of exercise to remain fit that the Rotary Club launched a walkathon project for school children in the city last year. The second edition of this project was held in association with the National Rural Health Mission here recently. Muthoot Pappachan Group and Pepsi were the sponsors.

Abraham George, the chairman of this year's walkathon project, said that the participation this time around was much more than the inaugural year.

While last year, the project attracted only about 1,500 students, this year about 4,000 students from 130 schools in the city and its immediate suburbs hit the road for the five-km walk. Last year, the focus was on child obesity and the theme of the project was “Fit, Not Fat.”

A recent survey among the children, sponsored by the State government, prompted the organisers to choose this year's theme as “Fit Child, Fit Adult. “The survey results showed that only about six per cent of the State's population was fully healthy,” said Mr. Abraham George, the chairman of this year's walkathon project.

“The Rotary has about 26 clubs in the city and each club was assigned five to six schools each to canvass students,” he added. He said that the project evoked a good response with school authorities being as enthusiastic as the organisers.

Good participation

Four Kendriya Vidyalaya schools at the Naval Base alone accounted for 450 participants, while more than 120 students from Nalanda Public School were among the eager walkers.

The walkathon has not been conceived as a competition since in schools where top athletes winning prizes alone were being encouraged and given the opportunity to exert physically, Mr. George said. A majority of the participants completed the walk which started from Durbar Hall Ground. Even the handful of participants who appeared reluctant to complete the walk were encouraged by our volunteers, who walked along with them, he said.

As a continuation of this project, fitness awareness seminars would be conducted in schools round the year. Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth was the chief guest at the valedictory function.