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Redskins Donate Another 'Youth Fitness Zone'

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Jeremiah, a 10-year-old boy from the Northeast section of Washington, D.C., raced through a series of ladder stations in a crowded gymnasium. He was followed in short order by several of his friends.

Helping them through the exercise were "Redskins Health Ambassadors" Antwaan Randle El and Renaldo Wynn.

Randle El and Wynn were on hand on Tuesday to help donate the new Redskins Youth Fitness Zone at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Clubhouse No. 14 on Benning Road. The program encourages nutrition, fitness and wellness to combat obesity in boys and girls ages 8-14.

Randle El, of course, is a professional athlete who works out with 60 of his friends every day during football season.

He knows a little bit about the importance of exercise and the importance of building relationships through physical fitness.

"There's a whole social part of exercise and sports, being physically fit brings on a lot of different things," Randle El said. "A lot of people don't realize that. It's relationships and friends. If you go on the basketball court, most times you're not playing it alone. Someone has to be out there with you. Same thing with playing catch.

"So you build relationships through playing sports and getting exercise and being fit, and that's what we want kids and parents to realize."

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Antwaan Randle El with his friends.
(Ned Dishman Photo)

The Redskins Charitable Foundation, representatives of GlaxoSmithKline and more than 100 children were on hand for the unveiling of the Redskins Youth Fitness Zone at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Clubhouse No. 14.

The Redskins Youth Fitness Zone is part of "FitU," a GlaxoSmithKline-sponsored Boys & Girls Clubs program. The fitness center uses the HOPSports Training System, a multimedia instructional tool for physical education teachers. It includes more than 100 fitness lesson plans.

Childhood obesity is a growing national health issue.

According to The Washington Post, 30 percent of children nationally, 40 percent of children in the District of Columbia and 50 percent of children in D.C. Wards 7 and 8 are considered overweight.

Randle El and Wynn spoke to children and parents about the importance of staying active, even as some schools deemphasize physical education.

"You have to be fit, you have to be in shape, you have to eat right," Randle El said. "You can't just come home from school, sit on the couch and play video games. I would plead for state and city governments to implement gym classes in schools.

"In my day, we had gym class every day. Every kid isn't going to be like me or Renaldo, so I think it's important to the kids to get it in school, because some of them don't get it when they get home."

Randle El said when he was growing up in Riverdale, Ill., his father would encourage him and his two brothers to be active in sports.

"My dad was like, 'You're not just going to come home and sit down, you're going to do something,'" Randle El said. "That's the way it was. He kept us involved in everything, whether it was football or baseball or basketball or track.

"We tried that chess thing and we weren't too fond of that, so we wanted to be active. It benefited us well. It's just a matter of doing it at a young age so that when you get older, you don't forget it."

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