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Student recognized by Falcons for leading others to healthy breakfasts

POSTED: November 24, 2013 11:55 p.m.

Baseball player Zach Warwick tries to be an athlete in all aspects of his life. But earlier this year, he realized he was failing nutritionally.

“I didn’t have much time in the morning, so I would just eat something quick and unhealthy,” he said.

The North Hall Middle School sixth-grade student has overhauled his daily routine and is now working to affect his classmates.

“We only have a certain number of kids eating breakfast every day,” he said. “We don’t know how many are eating at home, but only 180 are eating breakfast at school every day. We have over 500 or 600 kids, so there’s a lot of people who don’t eat breakfast.”

Because of his diligence in raising awareness about eating a nutritional breakfast, Zach is now one of 11 Georgia students to be selected as an Atlanta Falcons First Down for Fitness MVP.

The 11 students were chosen out of 62,000 teacher nominations.

Debbie Wiley, health and fitness instructor at North Hall Middle, nominated Zach. Wiley said Zach began to understand the importance of breakfast following her health class earlier this year.

“We found out in reviewing their breakfasts that he was one of the worst breakfast eaters,” Wiley said. “We made him value that (nutrition would help him) to perform well in the classroom and on the field. That he would be more attentive, be able to have more focus and more brain activity if he was fueling on the right nutrition.”

So Zach went from eating sugary foods in the mornings to eating fruit and cheese.

“You need to have protein in the morning,” he said. “It helps build your muscles and gives you energy. A lot of people will eat something like a (pastry), which has no protein and a lot of sugar.”

Since eating more nutritional breakfasts, Zach said he has noticed an increase in his concentration, both in the classroom and on the baseball field.

“When I’m running and stuff, I think I feel better,” he said. “I can build my strength up and do it a lot better, and keep my concentration better.”

To share what he has learned, Zach is hosting a “Breakfast Blitz” at North Hall Middle on Dec. 3 in coordination with the school’s cafeteria staff. It will have a display in the front of the building, where students can pick up a healthy breakfast and learn more information about what they should eat in the mornings.

His tenacity caught the attention of the Atlanta Falcons First Down for Fitness program, which is a three-month program to challenge Georgia students to participate in fitness activities and lead healthy lifestyles.

Along with the other 10 winners, Zach will be recognized at the Dec. 15 Falcons game against the Washington Redskins.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” said his mom, Lisa Warwick. “I think it’s great. I will tell you we were people who would have a pastry for breakfast, but after he went through this class with Ms. Wiley, he came home and told me ‘I have to eat healthier.’ So we started having grits and doing fruit in the morning. And he’s been eating that way since.”


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