Gov. Douglas and Former Tour De France Pro Cyclist to Challenge Fit and Healthy Kids at Catamount Family Center on Wednesday

Governor Urges Vermonters to Participate in Free ‘Kid’s Bike Night’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE: July 25, 2005

CONTACT: Jason Gibbs
(802) 828-3333

WILLISTON – During his prime, Andy Bishop pedaled six hours a day, 21,000 miles a year, at occasional sustained speeds of more than 36 mph. On Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., Bishop will ride alongside Gov. Douglas at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston for a free Kid’s Bike Night.

An estimated 200 young Vermonters, age 17 and younger, are expected to attend. The event is part of the Governor’s Fit and Healthy Kids initiative.

“This event is one of many fun, educational events that involve our children and their families in our coordinated effort to give kids the information they need to be fit and healthy throughout their lives,” Governor Douglas said.  “Children who eat right and exercise regularly perform better in school and are far less likely to suffer from chronic and costly disease as adults. It’s a way to improve their health and lower health care costs over the long term.”

Started in 2003, Fit and Healthy Kids is a comprehensive statewide approach to increase health eating behaviors and opportunities for physical activity. The program directly combats an obesity rate in Vermont that rose 77 percent from 1990-2002. Currently, 26 percent of children grades 8-12 are overweight for their age and height.

“This event is something I am passionate about because it directly addresses an escalating problem,” said Bishop, who rode in the Tour De France four times. “There is an absolute need for kids to get hooked into physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle. So many physical problems can be attributed to poor diet and lack of exercise.”

Bishop was the highest ranked American mountain bike rider on the World Cup Circuit in 1997 and represented the U.S. at 10 World Championships. Although he is proud to have competed at the highest level of his sport, Bishop does not recommend that kids aspire to become professional athletes. Instead, he promotes a variety of sports and activities that kids can be passionate about as a way to get hooked for the long-term. “The critical message with the kids (AND adults) is that you can do all sorts of varied activities to strengthen your body,” Bishop said. “Plus, physical fitness carries over into every other aspect of your life, including your intellectual development and ability to focus in school. I get a lot of my exercise now chasing around my own kids. They wear me out.”