We live in a time where video games and social media sites dominate children's priorities. Physical education classes in school have become an 'elective' class where students can decide if they want to participate or not.
We live in a time where video games and social media sites dominate children's priorities. Physical education classes in school have become an 'elective' class where students can decide if they want to participate or not. Instead of going outside to play with friends, children are staying indoors and socializing online.
This lifestyle that does not include much physical activity as well as poor eating habits is contributing to the child obesity epedemic.
According to Brian McGrory:
"It’s as if a bunch of sixth-graders showed up for school this fall and a reality show broke out.
There were a dozen of them, innocent and unsuspecting, brought into a classroom in their East Boston middle school and introduced to a Mr. Daniel Hatfield, who enthusiastically informed them that they were going to begin a little fitness program. Then he led them outside.
Run, Mr. Hatfield told his young charges. “They’re looking at me like, how did we end up here?’’ Hatfield recalled, laughing. He repeated it: Run. As far and as fast as you can.
So they started, skeptically, then - almost immediately - breathlessly. Their arms flailed, their legs quivered, their sides throbbed, and that’s before they did their first lap of the field. Some kids ran less than a couple of hundred yards. The group averaged a 15-minute mile - basically the speed at which you can push a broken-down car.
But Dan Hatfield was undaunted. Shocked, maybe, but daunted, no. He is recklessly upbeat, lean, and smart - basically the guy you want your daughter to marry. He’s a graduate student at Tufts and what’s known as an Albert Schweitzer fellow who realized he probably can’t change the world but could have an impact on a few kids. So he worked with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and the principal at a place called the Umana Middle School Academy to develop a running club for students whose health may be at risk.
That risk refers to too many Fritos and not enough footballs. We’re in the middle of a full-blown child obesity epidemic, and if you don’t believe it, just look around your local mall. It can be especially bad in the poorer neighborhoods of any city, where safety and healthy thrive only in the abstract.
Which brings us back to the sixth-graders. They were ready to give up that day, but they didn’t, mostly because Hatfield wouldn’t let them. Ever since, every Monday and Wednesday at 12:30, they run. They run in the school parking lot. They run in an adjacent field. In the snow, they run through the corridors, 12 kids in sweatshirts and khakis giving it all they can.
Within two months, they cut 5 minutes off their average mile. Kids who couldn’t run 200 yards were aiming now for 2 miles. Something had clicked inside their heads: They can do this.
“It’s been great what it suggests physiologically, but in terms of character building, it’s just as powerful,’’ Hatfield said.
As Hatfield said this, his young charges were huffing and puffing through 10 minutes worth of laps around the cracked concrete parking lot one day this week. If they didn’t exactly look like a squad of Marines, that’s OK. It was a pretty remarkable sight just the same, the breathless boys urging each other on.
“Six minutes!’’ shouted Hatfield. A moment later, one of the flush-faced kids stammered, “How many now?’’ Hatfield squelched a laugh and said, “Six-and-a-half.’’
The kids were then led to a field bordered by a rusted warehouse on one side and the harbor on the other, for a relay around a makeshift eighth-of-a-mile course. Wellesley High this was not. They are tall and short, these boys, plump and thin, black and white. Picture them chugging along the grassy straight-aways, silhouetted by the city skyline, shouting to each other, “Go like the Border Patrol is after you!’’"
Read more: boston.com