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Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander youths head for UCLA to get fit

An initiative by the White House to reach out to two communities that are experiencing alarming rates of obesity and weight gain — Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders — will play out Saturday, April 2, in an all-day event at UCLA devoted to improving the health and fitness of youths.
iStock 000003240227XSmallMore than 500 participating Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) youths will be motivated to get healthy by television’s toughest personal trainer Jillian Michaels, Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburg Steelers, Marcus McNeill of the San Diego Chargers and other professional athletes, along with members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, part of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The event will feature physical activity stations run by college athletes; speakers and presentations; a healthy food village where chefs and dieticians will suggest how to make cultural dishes more nutritious; and a station where participants can receive routine health checkups.
Helping organizers stage the event are UCLA Recreation and two campus student organizations. "We are excited and honored to be partnering with our student organizations PISA (Pacific Islands' Student Association) and FITTED (Fitness Improvement through Training and Diet) to host the Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Youth Health and Fitness Day this Saturday," said Michael Deluca, director of Cultural and Recreational Affairs.
Southern California is home to the largest population of NHPI in the country after the State of Hawaii. According to the World Health Organization, three of the top 10 most obese nations in the world are located among the Pacific Islands. In American Samoa, 93.5 percent of the population is obese. Once Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders settle in the L.A. area, they encounter a more sedentary lifestyle in a city where cheap fast-food and underfunded afterschool sports programs exacerbate the problem.
Among the key representatives of the White House advisory commission who will participate is Sefa Aina, a graduate student in Asian American studies at UCLA and commission vice chair. He was appointed in September 2010 by President Obama to the commission and was chosen for one of 20 positions out of a nationwide pool of more than 2,500 applicants.
While he was at UCLA, Aina helped found Pacific Islander Education and Retention, a program in the Community Programs Office which offers tutoring and mentoring for Pacific Islander youth in Carson, Long Beach and Inglewood. He also worked as a counselor and adviser at the Asian American Studies Center before graduating from UCLA with a history major. Currently, he is director of the Asian American Resource Center at Pomona College and an associate dean of students.
"As an alum and current grad student," said Deluca, "Sefa is a shining example of leadership within the community and nationally. With UCLA's strong committment to community involvement, health awareness and promotion, healthy active lifestyles and student leadership, this is a wonderful event to showcase on campus."
To find out more about the event, see this
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