Whole. Healthy. Youth. That’s WHY.
BY JENN CASEY, YOUTH PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Our program supports kids (and their parents) by setting them up for a lifetime of success, showing them that movement is FUN, teaching them how to move in ways that are beneficial to them today and in the future.
In last week’s post, I wrote about how we work with the WHOLE child. This week, I’m going to focus on the Y part of WHY: YOUTH.
Why start ‘em young?
I’ll start by sharing my own story: I grew up in the 70s/80s, and was a pretty active child. I loved gymnastics, and got pretty good at it, until my courage ran out (gymnastics requires courage!). My high school “sport” was marching band, and I can tell you that is really and truly a sport! You need endurance, breath control, coordination, accuracy of movement, so many movement skills.
And then I got to college. I knew I should keep moving, and chose the dorm that was farthest away from the main campus so I’d be forced to do a lot of walking. That worked very well. But I didn’t have any sport or activity I loved. I went to the gym sometimes with friends, but didn’t know what to do there, and wasn’t really motivated to learn.
In my 20s and 30s, I was completely sedentary, very unhealthy, and feeling like it would always be this way. Fortunately, I changed that fixed mindset (more on that in a future post!), and realizing that parenting young children requires good physical conditioning, I got myself moving again. I started at CrossFit Kennesaw as a member, then got my L-1 and CF Kids certs a couple years later.
As a parent, I didn’t want to see my own children follow my own path from an active childhood to a sedentary adulthood, and I know also that this is a path that is all too common. I wanted to model for them what it means to be active: lifting weights, going for hikes, having the physical capacity to do the things in your life that you want to do. And that is why I started the CF Kennesaw Youth Program in 2012.
IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY (OR LATE!) TO DEVELOP GOOD HABITS
The habit of movement really begins in childhood. And it’s a struggle to develop and maintain that habit in the 21st century, here in the United States. We enjoy a high standard of living, yet many of the cultural norms and systems around us do not support opportunities for movement. My family and I live in suburban Atlanta, and we don’t have a lot of walkable places around us. To go the store or the gym or extracurricular activities, we have to get in the car. We spend a LOT of time in the car, even though we have always been a homeschooling family, in large part because the place we have chosen to live requires it.
MAKING MOVEMENT CHOICES, EVERY SINGLE DAY
So we have to CHOOSE movement. We have to choose to go to the gym or to go for a hike. We take homeschool classes at a church that was chosen specifically for having wide open fields to run around in, a small basketball court, picnic tables, a fire pit, and a beautiful pond to walk around. Choosing this space means choosing movement. We choose activities such as sports and dance and CrossFit and (in my case) Kettlebell Sport, things we love doing that motivate us to keep doing them.
KNOWING HOW TO MOVE IN HEALTHY WAYS
And we have to know HOW to do the movements we are choosing. We need to know how to move our bodies with intention and deliberation; what to do at the gym; how to lift something safely. We need our lungs and hearts to support the kinds of movements we are choosing.
We need to develop not just the habit of movement, but good habits within our bodies–where to put our feet, how to engage the core, how to position the shoulders. The habit formation is critical at both the macro and micro levels.
IT’S NOT ALL FUN AND GAMES, BUT SOMETIMES IT IS!
And the movements we choose should be fun, challenging, interesting! We should be able to do them solo if we want, or with friends and family. The best time to discover activities that you love, to learn how to do them, to develop the habit of movement is in childhood! It’s never too early (or too late) to begin!