In a move to combat the threat of obesity within the Turks and Caicos, caused generally from the inactive lifestyle of its residents, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Human Services, the Sports Commission, the National Health Insurance Board (NHIB) and the corporate community will kick-off Let’s Move Turks and Caicos.
Let’s Move Turks and Caicos, dubbed a big deal by Minister of Health and Human Services Hon. Jamell Robinson, was launched at the Premier’s Office in Providenciales on Thursday, November 25. The health and fitness programme will begin in January 2022 and run until March 2023.
Minister of Education Hon. Rachell Taylor in welcoming the programme, said she is confident that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands will gravitate towards it.
“We are going to start from our children right down to the elderly, although our focus will be on a particular range of individuals,” she said, noting that the objective of the initiative is to increase Turks and Caicos Islands Residents’ engagement in sport and physical activities and to promote holistic healthy living alongside proper nutrition.
She pointed out that the overall mission is to foster physical activity among residents, also to motivate and encourage residents to incorporate physical activity into their lifestyle habits and to provide incentives for registering commitment.
She said also that Let’s Move TCI also aims to educate residents on establishing lifelong fitness goals, along with educating residents of the health benefits of physical fitness. The objective is also to reduce the risk of chronic disease among residents.
Minister Robinson, referring to the programme as a big deal, said It demonstrates what collaboration and partnership with multiple stakeholders can produce. He asserted that the initiative has the full backing of the Ministries of Health and Human Services.
“When my team and I was brought in for the first meeting with the Sports Commission to be a partner in this initiative some months ago, we jumped on board, put our money where our mouth is, and here we are at the launch of something that I hope will be a paradigm shift in how we live as Turks and Caicos Islanders,” he said.
He added: “It is well established that healthy nutrition and physical activity are key lifestyle factors that modulate lifelong health through their ability to improve your overall health. While the health benefits of nutrition and physical activity are often studied singularly, it has become more and more evident that the integration of nutrition and physical activity has the potential to produce greater benefits rather than solely concentrating on one or the other.
“Good nutrition and physical activity combined help to prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, weight gain, high cholesterol, obesity, kidney disease, and some cancers as well.
“Eating well is important because without the proper nutrition the body will not run properly.”
He pointed out that being healthy does not necessarily mean making drastic changes to one’s diet or lifestyle.
“Making small, consistent changes to your daily routine can become healthy habits that improve your overall wellbeing. Maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and being physically active should become parts of our daily routine,” he said.
Director of Sports, Jarrett Forbes, pointed out that the programme will also focus on staging challenges, such as the ‘Super Foods’ challenge and the ‘Dirty 30’ challenge.
He said the Ministries of Education and the Ministry of Health, along with NHIB and the Sports Commission had been working on the project for quite some time, stating that he was excited that has become a reality.
“This is what we believe to be a game-changer. We are very confident of the work that has been done. We are going to see exercise videos, which are going to be produced locally by our local fitness professionals…meal plan videos produced by our local chefs. You are going to see meal prep of information of nutritional support. We are also going to have in-person group fitness instructions where you could be guided how to exercise properly. We are going to identify 30 dirty foods,” he said, adding that there will also be health fitness talks.
We are going to have weekly challenges. We are going to everyone who lives in TCI to push themselves. Each week the challenges will be more challenging,” he said.
Forbes noted that persons can participate by registration. The registration fee is $20, and individuals, once signed up, will receive various paraphernalia, t-shirts, water bottles and pedometer to track steps.
He said one of the challenges that they would be having is the ‘Super Foods’ and ‘Dirty 30’ challenge.
“We are going to identify 30 dirty foods. And we are going to encourage Turks and Caicos Islanders to refrain from eating those 30 dirty foods during the 12 weeks period. We are not asking you to not eat it every day, we are going to ask you every Tuesday and Thursday to refrain from eating the ‘Dirty 30’,” he said, adding that they would reveal to the public what those 30 dirty foods are.
“And we are going to encourage you to eat as much ‘Super Foods’ as you can,” he said.
Forbes used the opportunity to urge employers to register their employees for the programme.
Tamera Robinson, Interim CEO of the National Health Insurance Board, who brought greetings on behalf of the entity, pointed out that the NHIB spent millions on medical issues, most of which were brought out by lifestyle illness. She said the NHIB has thrown its weight behind the programme because it will foster a healthier country.
In the meantime, Minister Robinson said the undertaking to run the programme for the first three months would be approximately $150,000.