It’s estimated that there are over 12.7 million children and adolescents struggling with childhood obesity in the United States, meaning that one child in five is considered obese based on health standards.
River Days candidate, Miss Valley, Kennedy McGraw, has centered her community service platform around battling these statistics, raising awareness and offering suggestions for childhood obesity prevention.
McGraw said she personally relates to this topic because she struggled with her weight when she was younger.
“When I was younger I wasn’t severely overweight, but I just didn’t feel like me, I was really out of my comfort zone. It changed who I was, how I felt about myself and how I acted,” explained McGraw. “One day I just woke up and decided to weigh myself and do something about it. I was a seventh grader and I weighed 205 pounds. I didn’t realize that’s how much I weighed and that’s a lot. I wanted to do something about it. I went to my dad and I said ‘alright, I need you to help me.’”
McGraw said taking that step was the best decision she could have made for her life.
“We started eating better and we went to Crossfit every day at 5:30 before school. I carried that out until eighth grade. By my freshman year I lost about fifty pounds. My mom and I started going to Iron Body Fitness and the community and atmosphere there was so loving. We started training with Jeremy Slusher and got on a meal plan and my body continuously started changing. It really showed me the difference it can make to a change in your life and I feel like everyone should be able to make this change, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you are able to change.”
McGraw will be hosting a “Friday Night Lights,” family fitness camp on May 19 at the Valley High School football stadium, 1821 E Lucasville-Minford Rd. from 5:30- 7 p.m.
Each corner of the football field will be focused on a different aspect of healthy living. Two corners will be centered around workout activities thanks to the assistance of Matt Keeny. Another side will offer a taste-test of healthy alternatives to “junk” foods and Dakota Smith will discuss how foods impact the body.
“It’s more so about making a lifestyle change than just a focus on a diet or a workout,” said McGraw.
McGraw believes that without making healthy changes in her life, she would not be where she is today.
“I feel like if I wouldn’t have made the changes that I had made, I could have potentially never had this opportunity because my self-esteem wasn’t as high. If you would’ve told me four years ago that I would be selected to be Miss Valley, I would’ve never thought it could happen. I feel so blessed and happy to represent my school,” said McGraw.
The event is free and open to the public, McGraw will be accepting donations. All proceeds will go towards the prevention of childhood obesity.
To follow Miss Valley on her journey, you can find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/missvalley2017 or by searching “Miss Valley 2017 Kennedy McGraw.” For more information about River Days, please visit www.portsmouthriverdays.org.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.