By the Associated Press

Printed in the Clarion-Ledger–November 30, 2010

Officials are encouraging people to walk or jog through the rolling hills of the Vicksburg National Military Park to get in shape.

The Vicksburg Post reports that the park is participating in the initiative organized by the National Park Service and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Let’s Move Outside is a spin-off of first lady Michelle Obama’s nationwide Let’s Move initiative to end childhood obesity.

The Natchez Trace Parkway, a short drive from Vicksburg, is also among the 65 national parks participating.

One in four children in Mississippi and more than a third of adult Mississippians are obese, says an August report on the country’s obesity rate released by the Trust for America’s Health.

Military park officials hope to work with Shape Up Vicksburg, a fitness challenge launched last year by local gym owner Linda Fondren, to plan events geared toward young people and their families.

One program the park will continue to tout is Junior Ranger, a year-round activity for ages 8 to 14 in which the children learn about soldier life and the park’s terrain. To increase participation, a rewards and recognition program will be offered.

The park’s new education specialist, Melissa Perez, said ranger-led and self-guided hikes are in the works.

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