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FitNation Challenge winner gives students a workout

By Matt Sloane
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(CNN) -- More than 17 percent of American children are overweight, and with dwindling resources for after-school programs, less recess time and high-fat foods on the lunch line, those numbers are not showing signs of dropping anytime soon.

But in response to CNN's FitNation Challenge, physical education teacher Todd Sisneros vowed to find a way to raise the odds for his students.

"I set out to create an exercise DVD for kids that was developmentally appropriate and educational for kids and parents," said Sisneros, who splits his time between two elementary schools near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Using a low-budget camcorder, a DVD recorder and money he and his students raised, Sisneros put together four workouts for kids and distributed them free to school families. (Watch how the teacher came up with his award-winning plan -- 1:55 Video)

"The kids can follow the workouts at home anytime regardless of weather, money or parental unavailability to take them to fitness activities -- the kids have been empowered."

Sisneros' efforts have paid off, not only for the kids, but for the program itself.

For his work, Sisneros was selected the winner of the $5,000 first prize in the FitNation Challenge.

The second prize will be awarded to Dean Rice of Andover, Minnesota, who started "The Million Mile Challenge"external link -- a bike race challenging local residents collectively to ride a million miles on their bikes.

The third prize was awarded to the group Spelman SHAPE (Student Health Associates and Peer Educators), which is working with schoolchildren in Atlanta, Georgia, to teach good eating and exercise habits. Spelman College, a historically black school, is faced with the added challenge of curbing high rates of obesity-related disease in the African-American community.

In addition to the cash prize, Sisneros will appear on the FitNation segment of CNN's weekend health show, "House Call With Dr. Sanjay Gupta." Both the second- and third-place winners have the chance to be on the show as well.

CNN's FitNation tour set out this year to challenge educators, parents, students and physicians across the country to take on the challenge of tightening Americans' waistlines.

"You don't have to be a doctor to learn that achieving better health and fitness is really about making lifestyle changes," said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's senior medical correspondent. "In order to really offer useful information to our viewers, we knew that CNN would need to engage people in their own communities to discuss the challenges and solutions to living healthier lives."

Gupta was joined in his seven-city college tour by high-profile fitness advocates -- former President Clinton, California first lady Maria Shriver, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and champion athlete Lance Armstrong, along with the American Heart Association, nutrition experts and physicians dealing daily with the health effects of obesity.

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Physical education teacher Todd Sisneros has created a free DVD fitness plan that allows kids to work out at home.


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