Bargain ticket prices for Sox home games go up to bat in the fight against childhood obesity.
Look for lower ticket prices for families for Sundays home games as the White Sox team up with the University of Chicago Medicine. Special game day events on healthy lifestyle education also will give kids a chance to run the bases of U.S. Cellular Field and meet the players.
The Sox announced last week that the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital will sponsor 13 Sunday home games during the 2013 season. The games, called "Family Sundays," aim to make the baseball games accessible to more families and extend health initiatives to the South Side community.
Prices on Family Sundays start as low as $5 for upper-deck seats. The cost of parking is also reduced to $10 from the usual $20. After the games, kids will be able to get autographs from Sox players.
Family Sundays will also bring a focus on nutrition and healthy living education. Several booths set-up around the ballpark during the games will offer tips for healthy living, nutrition and exercise.
White Sox players will make public service announcements about nutrition on the big screens at the stadium, as well as radio and TV announcements to promote Family Sundays and healthy living.
“We are honored to stand alongside the University of Chicago Medicine in its mission to help kids across Chicagoland,” said Brooks Boyer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the White Sox. “I cannot imagine a more perfect fit as a partner with the White Sox. Together, we hope to make a lasting, positive impact in our community.”
Dr. Deborah Burnet, professor and chief of general internal medicine at University of Chicago Medicine, was a main player in the deal: “The University of Chicago and the White Sox are two different, big institutions on the Chicago South Side,” she said. “We were able to collaborate and contribute to each other's missions.”
“I would say the goal is to get kids and families excited about healthy nutrition and exercise and activities that include sports and eating healthy,” Burnet said. “Working with a pro sports team, to get the message out in a healthy way with an entertaining activity that people like, it can help help people learn more about a healthy lifestyle and decrease childhood obesity.”
The Family Sundays health initiative is based on the Power-Up program that Burnet helped lead at Woodlawn Elementary Community School. The collaborative after-school fitness program involved teachers leading weekly nutrition and physical activity sessions after school to students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The program, which launched in 2009, showed positive results in students’ health and found significantly lower body mass index in overweight participants.
Burnet hopes outreach programs, like Family Sundays, will spread the success of Power-Up to other areas of Chicago, especially the South Side.
“The South Side of Chicago is a diverse area,” Burnet said. “It’s diverse socio-economically, lower economically and medically underserved. If we can reach out through non-medical means to get out the benefits of nutrition, exercise and healthy living, it’s a great thing to do.”
A study done by University of Illinois at Chicago found that obesity could lower the lifespan of a child by five years. Of U.S. children and adolescents, 12.5 million are considered obese and another 10.5 million overweight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese. Illinois children reflect similar numbers: • 20 percent of 8- 10-year-olds are overweight or obese • 30 percent of 11- 13-year-olds are overweight or obese • 12 percent of high school students are obese
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, several states and cities throughout the country have reported declines in childhood obesity rates. But Illinois is not one of them. Philadelphia, New York City, Mississippi and California have all shown signs of progress. Reported declines in childhood obesity rates are attributed to more locally-grown foods, caloric information posted on restaurant menus, limits on TV times in daycare centers and long-term changes in public school menus and physical fitness program.
The CDC recommends that the solutions to fighting childhood obesity include better health education, more physical education and activity programs, healthier school environments and better nutrition services.