December 9, 2018 5:59 pm
Updated: December 10, 2018 10:40 am

Dunk for Diabetes event in Halifax promotes healthy living through sports

WATCH: A group of Halifax kids developed their court skills with help from Toronto Raptors' Jerome Williams as part of Dunk for Diabetes.

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Dozens of kids tied up their basketball shoes, threw on a pinny and got to practice, training for a healthy lifestyle.

Sunday was the culmination of a six-week program run through the Boys and Girls Clubs, Dunk for Diabetes, which stresses diabetes awareness and prevention and teaches kids to live a healthy lifestyle.

READ MORE: Kids’ fitness: Why is Canada ranked 19th out of 50 countries?

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Type 1 diabetes is often hereditary and unpreventable. Type 2 diabetes can also be hereditary, but excess weight, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet increases the risk of having it.

According to Diabetes Canada, about 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It more often develops in adults but children can also be affected.

That’s why Sunday’s event uses basketball to get kids engaged.

“Each week, the kids would have an opportunity to log their healthy choices and eating decisions in a work book, and score it and rank how they did,” said Henk van Leeuwen, CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax.

Participant Skylar says he really took to the program and now makes sure he eats vegetables, drinks lots of water and gets exercise every day.

“When you’re glued to the TV you are not getting really active, so your body gets weaker,” he said.

“When you’re active, your body gets stronger and you can do things better.”

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READ MORE: Toronto basketball program empowers youth both on and off the court for free

After six weeks of hard work, the kids had the opportunity to show off their skills and learn some new ones from former Toronto Raptor Jerome Williams.

“Getting kids excited about basketball and sports in general is one way we can get kids healthy,” Williams said. While the day is about having fun, Williams noted that there are some kids with real potential.

“There’s a girl down here, her jumpshot is sweet as butter,” he said.

“I think there’s always some kids in every town that has a future in basketball.”

But even if the kids aren’t destined to be the next NBA or WNBA superstar, Williams says the point is they stay active. This is the second year of the grassroots program, which takes place in 50 Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada locations across the country.

WATCH: Making exercise fun for your kids

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