More than 500 children will put their best foot forward this Saturday at the Armory, where they’ll do their most sincere imitations of Olympians in this year’s installment of the Uptown Games.
The event, now in its second year, gives students from Washington Heights and Inwood a chance to do their sprinting, hurdling, jumping and tossing on one of the country’s best-known indoor tracks, which happens to be located right in their backyard.
The Games are not a competition, however.
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who conceived of the event, said it’s one strategy to promote healthy habits and combat what he called an alarmingly high childhood obesity rate in upper Manhattan.
The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2011 that 20.7% of New York City public school students, ages 5 to 14, were clinically obese.
“Children uptown, in that particular area, aren’t running and aren’t exercising, so last year we decided to instill the responsibility to stay fit,” Espaillat told the Daily News. “Last year, 300 students from 20 schools signed up and it’s almost doubled this year.”
Espaillat said the Armory Foundation and New York Road Runners will provide training to students in grades 3 to 8 participating in the team-oriented events.