Governor Announces Fit & Healthy Kids Stretch Your Limits Challenge

For Immediate Release: February 1, 2005

Contact: Jason Gibbs
(802) 828-3333

MONTPELIER – Governor Jim Douglas and the Governor’s Commission on Physical Fitness and Sports today announced the Stretch Your Limits Challenge, a seasonal program of the Governor’s Fit and Healthy Kids Initiative meant to encourage young Vermonters, and those who are young-at-heart, to participate in an activity or sport they have never tried before.

The Stretch Your Limits Challenge begins February 1, and ends March 15. Participants are encouraged to keep track of their activities and write to the Governor, or fill out an online form, describing how they have stretched their limits by March 15 to receive recognition, and possibly a prize.

Noting that upcoming February vacations are an opportune time for children to try new activities, Governor Douglas said it is important to encourage young Vermonters, whatever their abilities, to engage in activities that help them learn to be healthy throughout their lives. 

“Although our winter days are shorter, this time of year presents excellent opportunities to motivate our children to get more exercise and make healthy choices by trying new activities,” said Douglas. “Whether it’s hockey or figure skating, snowshoeing, skiing or snowboarding, or indoor activities like basketball or volleyball, there are plenty of opportunities to try new activities throughout the winter.” The Governor did note, however, that appropriate supervision and safety issues must be considered.

Coordinated by the Vermont Department of Health, the Fit and Healthy Kids Initiative is a comprehensive approach to promote healthy eating and increased physical activity among Vermont’s children and their families.   Studies show that children who eat well and get plenty of exercise perform better in school and avoid chronic and costly diseases as adults.

“I hope every Vermonter will stretch their limits with me this winter, for fit and healthy kids and for a healthier Vermont,” the Governor added.

The Fit & Healthy Kids Initiative & Health Care Reform

By coupling Fit and Healthy Kids programs with a chronic care initiative, long term care reforms, prescription drug price reduction efforts, and commitments to reducing substance abuse and encouraging healthy choices, Governor Douglas has made comprehensive health care reform and improving the health of Vermonters a central component of his plan to reduce health care costs. 

“We need to do more than just change who pays the bill.  If costs continue to increase at the current rate, it won’t matter what pocket the money comes from because they’ll all be empty,” the Governor has said. “That is why I have offered true reforms that tackle the root causes of rising health care costs, opens our system up to low cost options, encourages healthy decisions and preventative care, and attacks health concerns at their inception before they develop into more serious and costly ailments.”

Douglas says Vermont needs to maintain a patient-centered system that offers more choices and puts health care decisions in the hands of patients and doctors, not government bureaucrats.

To lower the cost of health insurance, Governor Douglas proposed a plan that would immediately reduce premiums by 15 percent for Vermonters with individual insurance plans; offer low and middle income Vermonters a premium discount of up to 60 percent; reduce, by up to 50 percent, the cost for a small business to start providing insurance to employees; and decrease the number of uninsured Vermonters by 20 percent in the first year alone.

“But we won’t stop there,” Douglas stresses. “I will work every year to make progress toward our goal of affordable and accessible health care for everyone. In order to achieve this goal, however, we must save Medicaid first.”

For more information about the Fit and Healthy Kids initiative and childhood obesity, visit the Vermont Department of Health website at www.HealthyVermonters.info.