RICHMOND HEIGHTS, OH-- FitWorks Fitness Centers announced plans to partner with the Cleveland/Lakefront Area of the American Diabetes Association to present SchoolWalk and FitSchools.

SchoolWalk, the ADA’s national, one-time event, launches the program with a fund-raising and physical fitness activity. FitSchools begins at the conclusion of SchoolWalk and is an ongoing program that involves exercise and health education for students and their families within the schools and at FitWorks facilities, the company said. Working in tandem, FitWorks said that the programs are designed to provide Cleveland area elementary students with the skills and knowledge needed to fight obesity and diabetes while developing healthy lifetime habits.

“Childhood obesity and diabetes have become a national and local epidemic,” said Mike Cross, director of marketing for FitWorks. “Physical fitness is a key component to managing weight issues and preventing the disease, so a relationship between FitWorks and the ADA is a natural fit.”

The American Diabetes Association agreed.

“We’re very excited to partner with FitWorks on this program,” explained Jill Pupa, executive director of the American Diabetes Association, Cleveland/Lakefront Area. “Type II diabetes is on the rise among our young people, and it will continue to increase unless we address it head on. We’ve heard a lot about the problem, but not much about a solution. The SchoolWalk and FitSchools program is just that—a solution—because it helps children learn healthy habits at an early age, habits that will last a lifetime.”

Cross added that although the primary goal of the program is to establish healthy habits in children, other benefits are involved. “A component of this program encourages students to raise funds for diabetes research. As students do so, they increase awareness about the disease and earn dollars for playground equipment, courtesy of the ADA and US Games,” he said. “ This program also invites family involvement. So, it truly is a ‘win-win’ for everyone.”