Photo Credit: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images
There is nothing like a sport -- team or individual -- to get a child off the couch, away from the television and video games and working up a sweat. I see it every week when my six-year-old heads to soccer and chases a ball for 30 minutes straight, and my younger daughter makes her way to basketball, where she could dribble for hours. It doesn't feel like exercise. It's just fun and exciting for them to be learning a new sport. I remember having that same feeling when I played softball as a kid, and when I skated, dreaming of one day winning a gold medal in figure skating in the Olympics. Sadly, too many kids might not have the chance to try their hand at different sports but now that's about to change.
In honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, now just a little more than two months away, First Lady Michelle Obama has teamed up with the U.S. Olympic Committee to try to get more than 1.7 million kids participating in Olympic and Paralympic sports in their communities this year. "Sometimes all it takes is that first lesson, or clinic, or class to get a child excited about a new sport," Mrs. Obama said in a statement about the program, which is part of her Let's Move initiative to fight childhood obesity. "So this summer, together with our children, we can support Team USA not just by cheering them on but by striving to live up to the example that they set."
USA Field Hockey hopes to introduce kids ages 7 to 11 to field hockey at 250 locations around the country, USA Swimming will enroll 530,00 new kids in learn-to-swim programs, USA Gymnastics will host introductory clinics and events to reach some 40,000 kids and the list goes on and on with the top Olympic and Paralympic sports stepping up to get more kids moving.
Why is this important? Listen to Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin, who says it was extremely important to her parents that she was active from an early age. "I started swimming competitively at age 6 to make friends, be active and be healthy," she said in the White House press release. "It wasn't important to my parents that I win ribbons or trophies, but it was important that I was active and dedicated to something in addition to school."
So don't waste another moment! Click here to find available programs in your community and get your kids moving.
Who knows? You might even discover a future Olympian!
Kelly Wallace, a mom of two, didn't win that gold medal in the Olympics but did go on to become Chief Correspondent of iVillage.