Celebrity ‘loser’ pumps up students
A self-professed former fat kid stopped by Holladay Elementary School Sept. 20 to present an interactive assembly designed to help students avoid struggling with their weight as he did.
Austin Andrews, who lost more than 200 pounds as a contestant on NBC’s Biggest Loser 2011, had HES third-, fourth- and fifth-graders singing, shouting and dancing as he peppered them with information and questions about exercising and making good nutrition choices.
The visit was sponsored by Wholly Guacamole, which brought the “guac mobile,” a 55-foot trailer shaped like a bowl of guacamole, to Holladay from its previous visit to a Sterling school.
Wholly Guacamole staff members giggled as they described their travels down the East Coast in the brightly-colored, oddly-shaped truck.
“Driving down the highway, you see all the people hit their brake lights [as the “guac mobile” looms in their rear view mirrors],” said one staff member. “It’s a trip!”
Although there were no guacamole samples to be had (“The Baltimore Farmers Market cleaned us out,” said a staffer), students posed for photos with the truck and teachers were given coupons to distribute later.
From Richmond, the “guac mobile” was heading to North Carolina, where Andrews would take the “Check Your Choice Tour” and his presentation about healthy habits to additional elementary schools.
A finalist on Biggest Loser 2011, Andrews noted in an interview following the presentation that after feeling so badly about his size as a child, he can’t imagine a more rewarding pursuit than helping to curb the trend toward childhood obesity.
While other children weren’t necessarily cruel to him about his weight, said Andrews, “I felt bad enough just to go through that. . . . And I don’t want to see students go through it.”
He also pointed out that in addition to targeting children ages 6 to 14 “the range you have to make an impact” -- the campaign also is designed to educate parents and get them involved in anti-obesity efforts.
“If parents aren’t modeling good behavior,” said Andrews, “it’s hard to get [children to cooperate]. It’s good to see schools taking care of that.”
During his presentation, Andrews had two student volunteers hold up a t-shirt and pair of pants that he wore when he weighed more than 400 pounds, and pointed out that the weight equaled that of several third-graders.
To loud cheers, Holladay Principal Angela Allen then presented Andrews with a considerably smaller HES t-shirt emblazoned with the school motto, and inducted him into “The Dream Team” as students shouted the motto in unison: “Dream, Lead and Inspire!”
Wholly Guacamole staff members reported afterwards that they immediately began getting feedback from viewers across the country who were inspired as they watched the presentation on the “Check Your Choice” blog.
One viewer posted the message, “What a wonderful school motto! That is the kind of school I want my kids to attend.”
To see a brief video of Andrews’ Holladay visit, visit http://checkyourchoice.tumblr.com.
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Richmond Entrepreneur's Assistance Program (REAP) will present the Walk & Roll for Kindness event as part of its #REAPKindnessCampaign inside Regency Square Mall. The event, designed to raise funds for awareness of disabled individuals including job seekers and possible entrepreneurs, will feature a one-mile walk, food demonstrations, music, dance, a kid's play zone, prizes and kindness card creation stations. Amy Lacey from WRIC will serve as event host. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and teenagers and free for children up to age 12. For details, visit http://tinyurl.com/REAPwalkandroll. Full text