Bucks' Bango, Dr. Cleo promote healthy living at schools

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It's not every day you can have “Bango the Buck” and other mascots play games with students at school.  But on Tuesday, April 9th, one MPS school had the backing of the Bucks to promote healthy living in a fun way.

It’s an effort to curb childhood obesity.

“It’s very important that, starting at a young age, we teach children that important of health, nutrition and exercise,” Molina Healthcare’s Outreach Coordinator Karen Semianczuk said.

With the help of Molina Healthcare's cat doctor mascot, Dr. Cleo, the two plush pals showed the 500 students at Dover-Tippecanoe schools fun ways to exercise, like doing pushups, jump rope and basketball drills.

“We want to make sure the kids are healthy and ready for school,” Principal Jeff Krupar said.

According to the CDC, around 18% of kids in the United States are obese.  To reduce that number, the federal government issued new requirements for healthier school lunches which include skim milk option, whole grains, fruit and vegetable portions and calorie limits depending on grade.

“Our school is a commissary for the school hot lunch program, one of them in the city, so we do a pre-packed thing here.  The kids get a proportioned lunch every single day,” Krupar said.

While it's being implemented in school meals, how about outside of school?  Through interactive games, Bango and Dr. Cleo are making sure the important message of proper nutrition gets sent home.

“To only eat junk food not that many times a day,” third-grader Jaiden Wilson said.

“Apple, yogurt, raisins,” third-grader Jakob Franklin said.

“So you can have a lot of strength and stuff,” third-grader Ivonna Gentry said.

Officials say in turn, a healthy lifestyle means better performance in school, which leads to a longer, more successful life.

“It helps them concentrate. It helps them stay focused on the task at hand and it's just good all around,” Krupar said.

Dr. Cleo and Bango also plan to deliver the same message at other schools.  Over the next month, they'll visit hundreds of other students at 15 area schools.