ARLINGTON -- Maria Olguin worries that her 10-year-old daughter, Kimberly, who loves tamales and sweets, won't listen to her when it comes to making healthier food choices.
"Now she's a preteen. Her body is starting to change, and she has to learn how to take care of her body better," Olguin said. "I told her in school you have to choose more salads than just hot dogs and hamburgers."
That's why Olguin signed her fourth-grader up for the Arlington Library's new Fitnessista program this summer. The free classes, offered through the library's Arlington Reads program, are designed to teach girls going into the third, fourth and fifth grades the importance of fitness, self-esteem and healthful eating.
The library hopes to enroll up to 25 Arlington students in the 13-class program, which starts July 5 and will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Central Library. Girls will participate in such activities as jump rope, interactive video games and yoga, learn how to read food labels, choose healthier options at fast-food restaurants and discuss body image, said Yoko Matsumoto, library service manager-literacy.
"We want tell them it's OK to be this body type," Matsumoto said. "Eating issues are starting to hit girls at younger ages. We want to tell them who you are is great."
The library held the first Fitnessista classes last fall, and Matsumoto said the Arlington Reads program hopes to expand the classes in the coming school year to include elementary school-age boys. Fitnessistas fits in with Mayor Robert Cluck's health initiatives on childhood obesity, starting with elementary age students.
"You cannot maintain health just by watching what you eat or by exercising," Cluck said. "Putting them both together, you can make great strides in maintaining your health. Your body was made not to sit around to watch TV."
Registration is now open for the classes. Matsumoto said the library is seeking sporting equipment donations, such as jump ropes and athletic shoes, for the program.
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639