Programme aimed at kids’ fitness

Studies
show that ensuring children take part in regular exercise, three times a week
for up to 40 minutes is vital to keeping them healthy and alert for life.

Not
only can exercise stave off Type 2 Diabetes, it increases mental clarity, aids
better eating habits, improves coordination and restful sleep.

As
a fitness instructor and a mother of two, Jeanna Parsons was concerned enough
about the number of overweight children to want to reverse that trend locally.

Not
one to sit down when she can get herself and others moving toward a shared
goal, the owner of Mobile Fitness Solutions felt she was “uniquely qualified to
redress the balance” of child inactivity.

Her
solution led to the setting up of Mobile Fitness Solutions’ Youth Afterschool
Fitness Programme in April.

After school fitness

As
well as being trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and having a nutritional
counselling certification, Ms Parsons runs four classes a week, on Mondays
through Thursdays from 3.45-4.35pm and from 4.40–5.30pm at Triple C School’s
play field, which are open to children from all schools.

She
devised the programme specifically for youngsters, and said: “It not only
complements the school’s physical education classes but extends what children
take part in by combining fitness training, team games and flexibility training
in a fun and nurturing environment.”

Once
her proposal was accepted by the school’s principal, it wasn’t long before she
enrolled her first intake and now coaches and plays alongside up to 10 children
under the shade trees.

The
programme has participants tackling obstacle courses, jumping rope, catching
Frisbees, relay races, playing kick ball and using a mini trampoline.

“It’s
specifically tailored to meet the needs of five to 18-year-olds,” she said.

“The
40-minute classes are designed to be fun. Children get to burn off energy and,
unlike school games lessons, they have direct input into what kind of
activities they take part in.

“I
motivate them and praise them on their successes, which has led to several
children becoming less body-conscious, more outgoing and more competitive.”

Ms
Parsons also talks to the children about basic nutrition.

Although
the programme will close for the summer, she would like parents and school to
be aware of the programme, so that by September “things in place to extend it”
the initiative”.

Extending the programme

She
is looking for sponsorship from businesses to allow her to roll out the after
school club into other schools and take on staff.

“The
way the programme is designed, no two sessions are the same, she said. “This
keeps the children from getting bored and they enjoy being able to suggest
activities and having their suggestions acted on.

“The
way that home life is structured nowadays, most parents work and many moms work
full time. Some children are left largely to their own devices inside and
inactive.

“This
programme gives them a safe and structured environment and gets them with their
peers to socialise while keeping fit,” she said.

Ms
Parsons wants to talk to other schools about extending the initiative to their
outdoor play spaces. “I’m also looking for indoor sites now we’re in the rainy
season,” she said.

“I
don’t want any child left out. That’s why I’m asking for as much public
assistance as possible to make this a success,” she said.

She
said the cost of sessions is affordable and she is happy to give sibling
discounts.

“Here
in Grand Cayman, we’ve got to the point where this is not something that would
be nice to do but needs to be done,” she added.

FYI

For
further information and to sign up for Mobile Fitness Solutions’ Youth
Afterschool Fitness Programme, contact Ms Parsons, at 926-0901 or email her, at
[email protected]

FEATYouthfitnessSTORY

Mobile Fitness Solutions’ afterschool fitness programme puts participants through their paces.
Photo: Submitted