In battle against chronic disease, Mayor’s Fitness Council designates first healthy event

CORPUS CHRISTI — In ongoing efforts to battle chronic disease in Corpus Christi, the Mayor’s Fitness Council designated its first healthy event, the It’s Your Life Foundation 5K Walk and Run, which met the council’s stringent criteria.

As part of its changing strategy to shed the city’s Fattest City label and make the city a healthier place to live, the fitness council earlier this year announced incentives to improve health and wellness, including waiving park rental fees for up to three events per year that meet strict requirements: Smoking must be banned, unhealthy foods are prohibited, and participants must be offered healthy eating tips.

Proceeds raised by the 5K will go toward promoting the foundation’s two initiatives, an anti-tobacco program that educates children about the hazards of tobacco, and a program to combat childhood obesity.

The 5K will be held 7:45 a.m. April 26 at Cole Park. Entry is free for children ages 4 to 17 and $30 for adults.



Rachel Denny Clow/Caller-Times Zoya Surani, 13 (left), and Leslie Salomon, 16, presenters of the iConquer Chews Wisely dance with students at Yeager Elementary School in October during a presentation. Students from Carroll High School and Baker Middle School use puppets, songs and food tastings as teaching tools for healthy eating habits to curb obesity and diabetes.

CORPUS CHRISTI — A group of middle and high school students are helping kids fight off bad eating habits taking the message of healthy eating into elementary schools.

Yeager Elementary kindergartners recently learned about better eating habits and diabetes risks through theiConquer: Chews Wisely program, which is funded solely by a parent of some group members.

Students from Carroll High School and Baker Middle School use puppets, songs and food tastings as teaching tools. The group of girls, in which three are sisters, also associate their first names with fruits or vegetables so their monikers can resonate with the younger students.

Many kindergartners first considered candy a healthy food option at the start of the program, which began in schools this year as part of the nonprofit organization It’s Your Life Foundation.

“They didn’t know it was bad for them,” said Sara Surani, a Carroll senior who is part of the program’s team.

That changed by the third meeting.

“What leads to diabetes?” group members asked the 41 kindergartners in October as they gathered in the school cafeteria.

“Candy!” students yelled in unison.

The program also emphasizes the importance of students exercising and eating fruit and vegetables to make strides in preventing diabetes.

Celestine Barnes, 5, said she tried carrots for the first time during an October visit.

“They were healthy,” she said after clearing her plate, which also had other foods, such as grapes, apple slices and cheese cubes.

Group members said they rely on the fact that students are at an age where they absorb information quickly and maybe they will share what they learn with their families.


Yeager Elementary School Presentation

Rachel Denny Clow/Caller-Times Yeager Elementary School kindergarten students Emylei Head (left) and Dalena Dunn, both 5, try a healthy snack of a cracker, cheese, grape and carrot during an iConquer Chews Wisely presentation by Corpus Christi Independent School District students in October.

“It really makes a difference to know that we inspired one kid,” said Saherish Surani, a Carroll freshman and Sara Surani’s sister.

The program also inspired one of its own members, Leslie Salomon, who plays an active role in her family’s health.

Her 13-year-old brother, Jacob, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 3 years old, and she has a grandmother diagnosed with Type 2. Salomon used to be a key caregiver for her grandmother.

Salomon, a 17-year-old Carroll junior, buys the groceries for her immediate family and often opts for healthier foods, such as lean chicken and greens.

She said her family started cutting meal portion sizes and eating healthier after her brother’s Type 1 diagnosis.

Salomon, who often helps her brother count carbohydrates, said childhood diabetes affects the whole family.

“It’s basically, like, a parasite,” she said. “It takes over everything.”

Salomon’s father, Ray, 37, said he has relatives with Type 2 diabetes who have vision problems, limb amputations and loss of teeth as a result of the disease.

“It’s kind of bad,” he said, adding he makes sure his children routinely get screened for risk factors.

He said a family has to work together to stay active and eat healthier.

“It’s a team effort, he said, “on everyone’s part.”


Surani Trio

Channel 3 Metv kiii Corpus Christi; Surani trio talking about healthy community and diabetes prevention
Channel 3 Metv kiii Corpus Christi; Surani trio talking about healthy community and diabetes prevention