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9-year-old doing her part to curb obesity in kids

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Nine-year-old Madeline Cumbey is doing her part to keep her generation healthy.

She eats wholesome foods, aims for at least an hour a day of exercise — and acts as a health ambassador to her friends and peers.

Madeline is one of 25 students across the nation selected to serve on the Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Students on the board give the alliance ideas on how to communicate to children the message of eating well and exercising, alliance spokeswoman Megan McIntyre told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne. Board members meet twice a year in person and must complete a service project each month.

“We try to pick a really engaged, passionate, creative group of kids who will really go out and have an impact,” she said.

Children selected for the board had to complete an online application, write several essays, collect teacher recommendations and do a phone interview. Madeline, a soft-spoken third-grader with a big smile and braces on her teeth, is the youngest member of the board.

“I want to change my family history Both of my grandpas had heart attacks by age 55, and my grandma is a breast cancer survivor,” Madeline wrote in her application essay. “It can be different for me if I live healthier. I want to be a good influence on the people around me — my family, my friends, and my neighborhood.”

Madeline is already leading by example. She recently lead her Brownie troop in a hula hoop exercise, is asking kids to sign commitment cards to be healthier and has made a presentation to her classmates.

“It’s really fun to tell kids to try to eat better and move more,” Madeline said. “If we don’t eat healthy and don’t get enough exercise, we’ll be the first generation to not live as long as our parents.”

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation hopes to reduce the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 by helping kids making healthier choices. About 25 million children in the United States are overweight or at risk for becoming overweight, according to the group.

Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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