The problem of childhood obesity is in the news every day and one Boys & Girls Club in the Tulsa area is rising to the challenge of doing something about it. “Totally Fit Tuesdays” at the Sand Springs Boys & Girls Club make it fun for kids to eat healthy, stay active and learn to reduce stress. Program director Nathan Nevers said he is already seeing results. “We’ve only taught the program for two months, but I can see a change in attitude. Kids are getting more involved in playing,” Nevers said.
Nathan said kids who used to think that exercise had to be strenuous to be good for them are learning that any kind of activity is not only good for them but fun. Every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Nathan and program aides Mary Bechtold and Jennifer Bryant divide sixty plus kids into three rooms where they teach three twenty-minute sessions about nutrition, fitness and relaxation techniques. Of course, Boys & Girls Clubs are well known for organized sports, but on Totally Fit Tuesdays the kids play games in which kids of all ages and sizes can feel competent, such as jumping rope.
In the healthy eating segment, the kids learn healthy habits from “teeth to feet” such as flossing and general hygiene. Mary makes learning fun with such games as “Healthy Bingo.” Kids put puffed wheat morsels on the Bingo cards and get to snack on them after each game. In the relaxation room, Jennifer has the kids start with stretching, then calmly sit in a Yoga-style position while she gives them ideas to think about. “Everyone think about the decisions you made today,” she said. “Were they good decisions? Would you do anything differently?” At the end of relaxation, some of the kids seem ready for a nap, but they snap out of it to play outside while waiting for their parents to pick them up.
Totally Fit Tuesdays recently won the state award for “Outstanding Fitness Program” award and Greg Parker, the Sand Springs Boys & Girls Club unit director, received the award given by the state Boys & Girls Club for “Outstanding Contribution to the Profession.” But the kids are the real winners In this program. “My goal for this program is simply awareness. So many kids simply aren’t aware of how important it is to develop healthy habits. And the younger you can start, the better,” Greg said.
P.S. -Ten minutes into the Healthy Eating track of Totally Fit Tuesdays it’s obvious what isn’t being taught in school anymore.
“What is an example of a brown vegetable?” asked program aide Mary Bechtold. One boy who looked about six years old was the first to raise his hand, and waved it excitedly while his classmates were struggling to think of the answer.
“Chocolate pudding!” he said.
If only it were so. On the other hand, it’s obvious some parents are trying to teach about and serve nutritious foods. During the green vegetables discussion, one little girl was very enthusiastic about bok choy, which she said she eats with Mexican beans.
But some family members aren’t so helpful. Consider the little boy whose big brother told him kiwis are furry because they’ve gone bad. And one can only guess how another young boy became so mixed up about what cantaloupe. “I think it’s when people eat other people,” he said.
Thank you, Mary, for hanging in there! -Sallie