Take Steps to Counter Youth Obesity
THIS ARTICLE: Many American school children are overweight, but
now schools are introducing physical fitness programmes to counter
the problem of teenage obesity .----Editor
Armanda Bush doesn't know statistics. She just knows she likes Bob
Korte's PE class at North Park Elementary, because "Mr K",
as his students call him, doesn't care who wins when they play Ta
Po Ae, an imported field handball game in which at least two balls
are in play simultaneously and most players are running, jumping,
throwing or blocking at any given moment. Korte, a former high school
basketball coach, just wants his students to move, to strive beyond
their perceived capabilities and, more practically speaking, to
elevate their heart rates.
"You guys are getting too much into the competition,"
he says after a spirited game recently. 'We don't keep score, do
we? If you just stand there and keep arguing, you're not going to
Not keep score? For those who grew up in a PE era when even the
most spontaneous match of tetherball was scrupulously tallied, scoreless
play seems downright radical. But to children who have not been
weaned on it, the idea makes sense.
"If you know you're going to have to score some points to win,
you might get nervous," Bush explained, sitting under a mulberry
tree after Korte's class. "But when you don't have to compete,
you have more fun and your body will be looser."
Bush has participated in more traditional PE classes, where a classroom
teacher, rather than a certified physical education instructor,
released a stream of children onto the playground with a soccer
ball and one barked command. "Go!"
Call it survival of the fittest. But Bush wasn't the fittest. "Everybody
just charged and got in a big pile," she says, grimacing, "and
ifs hard to breathe in that pile."