Tuesday, March 27, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Tony Duncan, the owner of Body Science Personal Fitness Training in Wilmette, stood in the middle of a small group of young people on the basketball court at the Maywood Park District’s main headquarters, 921 S. 9th Ave., on March 26.
His mission? Both intimate and gargantuan. He wants people, particularly those living in low-income communities, to know that eating a healthy diet based on whole foods is not nearly as expensive and complex as it may appear to be.
“I have a background in nutrition and I’m constantly trying to dispel misunderstandings of fitness and nutrition,” Duncan said during a phone interview on March 27. “There’s so much marketing and rhetoric out there that the average person can’t figure it out.”
Lately, his message has resonated with one of the world’s most recognizable brands — Facebook, which sent out a film crew to the March 26 event as part of a documentary the company is creating about Duncan’s efforts. The film could premier on the social media platform sometime this year, he said.
Tony Duncan with area young people on March 26 during a G.A.M.E.R.S. event at the Maywood Park District. A Facebook film crew looks on. | Submitted photo
The cameras may have captured Duncan’s delight when a handful of local young people told him that they couldn’t really taste the difference between a fruit smoothie and a kale smoothie. It was a minor triumph.
“Your kids like green smoothies!” he recalled reminding parents who were also at the event, which was part of what Duncan calls his G.A.M.E.R.S. (Giving At Risk Youth Events, Resources and Smoothies) initiative.
Duncan, who said that he once lived in Maywood for a short period of time, wanted to hold a G.A.M.E.R.S. event in Maywood because of the relationships he still has here, even after having moved away.
After Duncan posted a call for potential locations for the event on Facebook, Dawn Rone, the park district commission president, reached out to him. Rone and Duncan both went to the same church as young people, he said.
“I felt compelled to come out here and do something,” Duncan said, after emphasizing the prevalence of diseases related to nutrient-poor, process-rich diets in communities like Maywood.
“Studies show that when their diet is predominantly based on processed foods, children can’t focus, the development of their frontal lob slows, they make a lot of emotional decisions,” Duncan said.
“Add to that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and everything else the children are facing and your realize that one of the only things we can do as individuals to stop this escalation of self-injury,” he said, “is change our nutrition.”
Transitioning to a diet based on unprocessed foods doesn’t have to be complicated, Duncan added. Instead of buying the expensive packages of triple-washed kale, he told parents, they should instead purchase the vegetable fresh and wash the leaves themselves. Ditto with other ingredients like nut butters, bananas and strawberries.
In addition to Duncan’s smoothies, local students and the film crew were treated to a spread that included house salad; a snazzy array of sandwiches like grilled vegetables and goat cheese, ham and brie and Waldorf chicken; chicken Caesar and other wraps; and fruit and vegetables.
Buona Italian Beef & Catering, based in Berwyn, the event’s corporate sponsor, provided the food and the raw materials, such as kale and bananas, for Duncan’s smoothies.
Area young people also participated in physical activities, such as basketball, with Maywood firefighters and police officers.
John Buonavolanto, the catering and marketing executive with Buona Beef, said that the partnership with Duncan and the park district was “a no-brainer.”
“We decided that if this was in an area of need, we wanted to be here and help out,” Buona said on March 26. “We hope this will teach people how to effectively and affordably have a healthy lifestyle that makes sense for their budget.”
“It was very exciting to have Buona as a corporate sponsor and for them to come to our Maywood community and offer their support for this great event,” Rone said. VFP
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