Looking back, I never would have imagined that many of the recreational activities I participated in and enjoyed, especially walking and bicycling to school, climbing ropes in PE, hiking to the local nature center, and playing games at recess, would impact my life so significantly. Think about how your own enjoyable experiences, perhaps your first bike ride, playing at the park or taking part in fun afterschool or summer school activities, helped shape your life choices. Now, as the School and Family Engagement Manager for the Safe Routes Partnership, I hope to draw upon these experiences to help ensure that the opportunities, institutions and infrastructure to support physical activity that many of us enjoyed growing up remain accessible to today’s generation.
Championing daily exercise before, during and after school exposes children to a variety of physical activity options to help them become more confident, improve their socialization skills, strengthen their focus, increase their academic potential and maintain overall health. When thinking of the compounding health impacts of physical inactivity, I’m reminded of how the closure of my neighborhood recreation center affected a fifth grader at one of the elementary schools I worked with. He told me that once the center was closed he would no longer be able to use the swimming pool to help make his asthma better.
Centered around the school day, Fire Up Your Feet program offers an innovative model for keeping kids healthy and academically engaged, and during this time of tight school budgets, Fire Up Your Feet fundraising options help schools generate resources to support their wellness plan goals. It just takes a quick minute to support school-based physical activity and recreational opportunities by registering your school for our October 2013 Activity Challenge (in selected regions/states) or to start a Fire Up Your Feet fundraiser. While browsing our website, you may also want check out the official “Fire Up Your Feet Mad Lib,” a fun new downloadable resource that gets kids moving in the classroom.
Whether running through my neighborhood, walking to the skating rink, biking to my friend’s houses, or learning how to swim, I’ll never forget the ways that sports and recreation brought out my curiosity about the world around me, and helped increase my confidence in being able to explore it. It is these early, positive experiences with simple, everyday physical activity that ignite a life-long love of walking, jumping and moving. I couldn’t be more proud to fire up my feet daily and work on programs and policies to help families, school staff and community leaders create schools and communities that are designed to move!
Feel good, have fun, be healthy and thrive.