San Clemente resident launches a program aimed to combat childhood obesity and establish healthy lifestyles for area youth
By Shelley Murphy
In February 2012, San Clemente resident Cindi Juncal enrolled in So Cal Boot Camp’s three-month weight loss challenge. Juncal’s determination helped her win the competition that not only transformed her life, but also put her on a path to change the lives of many of the city’s youth.
“After experiencing firsthand how good health and exercise changed the way I felt and changed my interaction with others, it seemed like a natural transition to take my passion for fitness and health to kids. I love working with kids,” said Juncal, a married mother of two young adults, who earned her bachelor’s degree and special education certificate at the University of San Diego.
By late 2012, the energetic Juncal jumped from SCBC participant to fitness coach and created The Noble Path Foundation. Juncal and TNPF are dedicated to fighting childhood obesity by improving the health and fitness of youth through motivational education and exercise.
Juncal established TNPF after her extensive research revealed a lack of treatment and intervention plans for kids confronting weight issues.
“It’s so preventable,” Juncal said. “That’s what motivates me. I thought, ‘How do I affect change?’ I determined it’s through awareness.”
Her methodology for fighting the obesity epidemic unfolds in three phases. The first phase focuses primarily on awareness and education. Juncal leads seminars spotlighting nutrition.
“I want to tell as many kids as possible about the dangers of hidden sugars and processed foods,” she said. “If there were a news article that said something in our water is killing our kids there would be uproar. That’s exactly what’s happening with sugar. It is liquid poison.”
Educational seminars tackle nutrition topics and exciting exercise events promote fitness. Earlier this year Juncal hosted a family fun night at Talega’s Mendocino Apartments, and recently she and a group of San Clemente kids participated in both Irvine’s health and fitness Jamboree Day and its Run or Dye 5K race.
If the obesity epidemic continues, Juncal said, “Evidence suggests that today’s kids could likely be the first generation who won’t outlive their parents. It’s frightening.”
Next month, as Capistrano Unified School District schools prepare students to participate in the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, at Vista del Mar Middle School, Principal Sandy McKinney along with physical education teachers will begin piloting Juncal’s nine-week challenge program. The event kicks off with day and evening nutrition assemblies to encourage parents and family members to participate along with their middle school students.
“Once a week, our certified SCBC trainers will conduct workouts, relays, conditioning and strength training during each physical education period,” said Juncal.
The positive approach of the challenge champions the progress of each physical education class and tracks gains in tests of endurance, strength and agility.
“Ideally, I’d love to have a program in every school and run a fun-spirited competition between the schools,” she said.
Phases two and three of Juncal’s plan include establishing independent locations for fitness training, nutritional counseling, after school programs and residential summer camps. TNPF, a nonprofit organization, also provides need-based full or partial scholarships.
“The goal is to ensure every child, regardless of race or income, has access to services to improve their lifestyle,” Juncal said. “I believe adopting a healthy lifestyle through exercise and sound nutrition can put one on the right path toward greater happiness and self-confidence.”
For more information, visit The Noble Path Foundation on Facebook.