Zest Quest helps kids

If you want a child to take advice seriously on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, it helps if that advice comes from a cool college student.

That is one of the ways Zest Quest, a wellness program adopted by a number of schools throughout the state, hopes to reach kids, particularly those already at risk of becoming obese. As part of the program, some students at Rock Hill's Lesslie Elementary School will be paired with physical education and health majors at Winthrop University.

Mentors meet with their students three times a week for about an hour each time. While together, they have a choice of a variety of physical activities, including baseball, basketball, swimming and even light weight lifting.

One big benefit is access to the new Lois Rhame West Center at Winthrop, the university's state-of-the-art wellness center. And while the student and mentor are exercising, the mentors can slip in some advice about maintaining a healthy diet and staying active.

While only a limited number of students will be paired with mentors, all students at the school will benefit. Joni Marr, a Winthrop fitness coach, meets with every class for 30 minutes a week, teaching them healthy eating and exercise habits.

With the rise in obesity nationwide, Zest Quest addresses a vital need to educate children about nutrition and exercise and to instill healthy habits early in life. And, using the talents of college students who also serve as role models for the kids, was an ingenious way to help ensure that students will soak up the lifestyle lessons and be active participants in the program.

We hope this program can be expanded to more local schools in the future.


Use of mentors is a good way to get through to children about exercise and good nutrition.