- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 18, 2003

The frenetic pace and the stresses placed upon teens and tweens today often give them little time to work toward taking care of their bodies and minds.

A federal agency sworn to protect the health of the U.S. population since 1946 would like to help. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has reached out with a colorful Web site designed to educate and inform children on ways to be mentally and physically fit.


Site address: www.bam.gov

Creator: The CDC, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, maintains the site.

Creator quotable: “CDC created BAM: Body and Mind to answer kids’ questions on important health issues and recommend ways to make their bodies and minds healthier, stronger and safer,” says Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC director. “The site also provides middle school health and science teachers with interactive activities that are both educational and fun.”

Word from the Webwise: With the help of online friends Michael, Elli, Matt, Daniel, Kendra and Kristi, visitors can explore a cartoony world of practical ideas concentrating on staying healthy and having the most fun with life.

Each slightly cryptic section title focuses on an important Body and Mind topic and offers multiple avenues of learning:

• Fit 4 Life handles the exercise and food-intake portion of the site.

• Disease Detective highlights the careers of an asthma specialist and epidemiologist.

• Head Strong explains the power of the mind.

• Str8 Talk answers questions from visitors.

• Whiz Kids allows children to offer some opinions.

• Survival Skills looks at safety.

Many sections simply offer text-based advice that can range from the Top 10 Tips for a Safety-Savvy Workout to ways to keep cool, calm and collected. The sections even include stories about 23 young experts in sports, such as 13-year-old Little League Baseball Hall of Famer Bobby Malouin, 16-year-old judo black belt Kenny Hashimoto and 15-year-old U.S.A. Jump Rope Federation National Championships gold medalist Ben Raznick.

One of the excellent interactive areas among the sections is an eight-question Stress-O-Meter that involves a test tube of green goo that bubbles up and changes color depending on what participants choose to relieve or add to the stress in their lives. Another simulation gives children a chance to visit a boys or girls locker room to find out how to avoid germs and disease, and a robust, printable, online calendar lets visitors schedule physical activities by type and duration.

Ease of use: All computers with relatively current operating systems and browser versions are compatible with the site. Visitors also need the latest Macromedia Flash plug-in to view some of the interactive components.

Don’t miss: The fantastic Kabam Comic Creator provides visitors with the chance to develop a six-panel comic strip. Aspiring artists first help three of their online friends with a problem involving home, school or a friend by dragging a correct answer bubble into a frame where they discuss a dilemma. Then it’s off to a virtual Colorforms palette to drag items, characters, backgrounds and bubble text into a work area to create the final strip.

Family activity: The entire clan can exercise together with the help of 24 Activity Cards found under the Fit 4 Life section. These recipes for health cover major sports as well as such calorie burners as walking, hiking and cheerleading; list the parts of the body worked during the activity; and feature fun facts, outside links, experts in the field and how to partake safely in the action.

Cyber-sitter synopsis: The 9- to 13-year-old crowd will love the hot design of the pages and will spend at least a few hours learning about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Overall grade: A

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it’s accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]washingtontimes.com).

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