This silent killer waits.
It is patient because it has time, so it waits, if not for you then for someone else, someone less diligent, less disciplined, or maybe someone less lucky. It is diabolical and devious because it doesn’t really do anything except show you the tools of destruction and let you decide. This silent killer is sweeping and goes by names like diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. It presents you with choices, life choices like stress, smoking, and obesity, and lets you decide. Everyone gets to decide; everyone that is except children.
In previous writings I spent a few words on the dilemma of child obesity and the way Clymer Central School is battling that near-epidemic condition with their Morning Jog program. This is your primer on how to join that battle and be part of the solution. On the Clymer school web site at www.clymercsd.org, you’ll find a link to the Morning Jog program under the “School” tab. On that page is a video of the program in action. In it you see testimonials from faculty, staff, parents, and administrators. And a lot of kids moving…and smiling. The video has power and energy, and it’s nearly impossible to watch and not want to do something, to be involved, to act. The page also has information you’d want to develop a morning jog program of your own, or to promote it somewhere. Really, all you need are kids (the more, the better) and space (preferably indoor during winter). The web site gives a good list of steps to get started;
1. Find staff members willing to volunteer 20 minutes once or twice per week.
2. Identify the location and time.
3. Identify any equipment needs. (Music, door mats, etc.)
4. Check in with physical education department and maintenance staff.
5. Make the proposal to your school’s administrative team.
There are also key tips gleaned from the years of
running the program like;
1. Make morning jogging the FUN choice.
2. Keep the structure minimal. Clymer students have done this for 5 years without lap-counters, pedometers, or contests and our participation rates have increased each year.
3. Have a designated place for each grade level to drop their bags and coats so they can retrieve them quickly when the bell rings.
4. Keep rules simple.
There’s more, but you get the picture. And Irv King, Clymer Physical Education teacher and program developer is available to answer your questions. You can reach him at IKing@clymercsd.org. In June of 2012 Clymer’s Morning Jog program was named one of ten ‘Praiseworthy Pioneers” in a national competition designed to identify creative and impactful school-based programs to promote children’s physical activity. The competition had over 500 contestants from all 50 states and was hosted through an initiative of ChildObesity180, an organization committed to fighting childhood obesity. About the award Irv stated, “I would like to thank the team of staff volunteers who keep morning jogging going. I also hope that other schools consider using the Morning Jogging program model, which was among the simplest, lowest cost, and replicable of all programs receiving recognition.”
People who exercise regularly are simply healthier than people who don’t. I didn’t make that rule up, but there can’t be a corner of the earth where this isn’t common knowledge. And here’s the thing, if you ask regular exercisers to describe themselves, this trait will be on their list (Please describe yourself: I’m a mother/father/son/daughter/carpenter/lawyer/grandparent/baker…exerciser). It becomes part of their personality, how they define themselves, imbedded in their DNA. Children are tabula-rasa, a blank slate, and we adults fill their future in the way we treat them, what we show them, the way we talk to them, and what we encourage them to do and not do. We are responsible for them, accountable in many ways for the person they will someday be. Those of us who choose to impact their lives have an obligation to give them choices that give them a fair run at being healthy and happy. If we write on their slate that exercise is fun, and important, and social, and good for you it sticks. Irv King and his fantastic group of volunteers know this. They demonstrate it -walk the walk- every morning of the school year when they open that gym for those kids and help build a foundation of health for their students. I bet if you asked those 180 plus Clymer kids who run around that gym five days a week first thing in the morning, I bet they’d say, “I’m a Clymer Pirate, and I’m a Morning Jogger.” What a great thing to be!