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Tweens tout healthy living on site for kids

TORONTO - They may not yet be household names and aren't even into their teen years, but Katrina Pacher and Sloane Wilson already have a fan base that spans countries and continents.

TORONTO - They may not yet be household names and aren't even into their teen years, but Katrina Pacher and Sloane Wilson already have a fan base that spans countries and continents.

An orphanage in Utah is using their recipes. A school in New Zealand is getting their groove on while using one of their videos to help learn line dancing.

The longtime friends and dancers are sharing their know-how of their craft and much more with a worldwide audience online as they hope to engage other young people on ways they can lead healthier lives.

Katrina, 11, and Sloane, 12, are hosts of the website Fit For A Feast.

Aimed at fellow kids and teens, the site is designed to show other youngsters ways they can enjoy themselves while being physically active, with dancing, sports and schoolyard games among a range of activities.

But the focus extends beyond just breaking a sweat by also placing an emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating.

The duo, who first met in pre-school as three-year-olds, got the idea for the website after attending a Grade 5 health class. Katrina's mother, Brenda Pacher, said it was there where they learned that one in three children born in North America would have Type 2 diabetes and that the number of kids who are overweight or obese had reached epidemic proportions.

"We were shocked how people weren't eating properly, and they weren't taking care of their bodies and they were eating too many fast foods," Katrina said in an interview from her home in Oakville, Ont., west of Toronto. "We wanted to help them because they've got to know you only get one body and you have to take care of (it)."

"We talked to our parents about wanting to do a website that helped kids," said Sloane. "They thought that it was a great idea."

Active Healthy Kids Canada's latest annual report card on physical activity for children and youth found most Canadian kids are still failing to make the grade when it comes to meeting minimum guidelines for physical activity.

The report found that just 12 per cent of Canada's youngsters were getting the 90 minutes recommended for daily physical activity, assigning an "F" for physical activity levels for the fourth straight year.

Katrina and Sloane are doing their part to help get kids moving despite juggling a full schedule of activities of their own outside of the digital world.

The girls devote 16 to 18 hours a week participating in ballet, jazz, tap, acro, hip hop, lyrical and musical theatre. On their website and its affiliated YouTube channel, videos posted feature Katrina and Sloane offering how-tos on everything from doing a hoedown to hip-hop moves, as well as instructionals on mastering the splits, cartwheels and handstands.

Beyond dance, a dedicated section on kids' fitness offers backgrounders and accompanying videos of a broad range of sports, a concise primer into the wealth of potential activities for kids to pursue.

Katrina and Sloane also showcase their skills beyond the dance floor and the mat by whipping up culinary creations like fruit kebabs for the camera. The site also posts meal and snack recipes.

Beyond the support of their parents, who help manage the technical side of the site, Fit For A Feast has become a community effort. Katrina said many friends have helped with ideas, and some of their dance friends take part in the online videos.

They also enlist the help of other experts to talk about their areas of specialty, from a nutritionist showing how to read food labels to a firefighter discussing candle safety.

Former "So You Think You Can Dance Canada" contestant Caroline Torti and junior Latin American dance instructor Julian Franch have also been featured offering dance lessons.

Brenda Pacher said they have made well over 100 videos and racked up more than 2.6 million views on their YouTube channel, with the audience growing by around five per cent each week.

Pacher says the feedback has been "unbelievable" and continues to fuel their efforts.

"We've hit a nerve somehow," she said. "Nobody's kind of doing what we're doing, and there's a need for it."

With so much experience under their respective belts, it's not surprising both girls see a future with dance in it — Katrina as a teacher, and Sloane performing in music videos or movies.

In the meantime, they're continuing to go full steam ahead with Fit For A Feast for the foreseeable future.

"I think it's very great that we've been able to show a lot of people what you can do to be active," says Sloane.

"I'm surprised how much everyone loves it," adds Katrina.

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Online:

Fit For A Feast: www.fitforafeast.com

Fit For A Feast YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/fitforafeast

 
 
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