Josh Walker has his hands full. He’s the new athletic director at Mabee Red Shield Boys and Girls Club and is also managing a new teen program this summer. Club director Jerome Smith said it’s the first formal program for teens that Red Shield has had in a long time. Josh leads eleven 13 and 14-year olds in programs called Goals for Graduation, Career Launch and Healthy Habits. I got to spend time with Josh and the teens recently at LaFortune Park where they walk or run the three-mile perimeter once a week as part of the Healthy Habits program.
Josh said the kids didn’t want to tell their parents about Healthy Habits because their parents would be so happy. “It’s the same story with all the parents. They say all the kids want to do now is be on their phones. It’s hard to get them to do anything else,” Josh said. But he knows how to keep them motivated, although with a nudge, not a push. And that’s good, because Josh used to be a defensive lineman for the University of Tulsa. He learned to play football at Mabee Red Shield as a "Bulldog."
I asked the kids to invent a creative pose for their photograph, and they came up with the pose above. (Click to enlarge.) From the top of the slide are: K’onte Thompson; second row; Katara Kniep, Monique Ware, Willis Humphrey, Rachel Jefferson, Kerey Carson; third row: Octavia Terrell, Kharon Driver; bottom row: India Noriah, J’day McIntosh. Photo at right is of Josh and Willis.
Although the walk/run was part of Healthy Habits, several of the kids had brought chocolate candy and chips that Josh confiscated. He also had to break up several budding romances. “It’s an all-day job to keep one of my boys away from the girls,” he said, and looked at the boy hanging on a girl and sighed," ALL day.” It’s been a while since my kids were 14 and I had forgotten. Yes, Josh Walker has his hands full and he’s the exact right man for the job. Lucky teens!