Pull Your Own Weight: A moral imperative
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding a P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A column by Rick Osbourne
Garrison Keillor’s legendary boyhood home of Lake Wobegon, MN is the town in which “All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” In contrast, Strongville, IA is the town in which all the women are strong, all the men are strong, all the children are strong, and all its citizens strive to grow stronger week after week, month after month, all year long.
More specifically, Strongville is built around the premise that the desire to become stronger in all kinds of ways, is the natural wellspring of life that must be actively cultivated if its opposites – deterioration, degeneration, and atrophy – are to be avoided.
In Strongville it’s a matter of honor. It’s a moral obligation, a moral imperative to cultivate one’s own inborn seeds of strength. It’s the source of one’s own self-respect as well as one’s respect among fellow citizens. Failure to do so is seen as undermining oneself, and in the process undermining one’s family, neighborhood, and ultimately the entire town.
Thus, what’s true for individual citizens is also true for the town itself. Strong, resilient, resourceful, independent citizens are the ingredients that collectively make up a strong, resilient, resourceful, and independent township.*
Life Shaping Habits Start Young
Since all its citizens have physical bodies, Strongville’s founding fathers decided that the process of growing stronger should begin with each citizen’s physical body. The other thing their founding fathers recognized was the fact that life shaping habits usually begin at an early age. That being the case, they also decided that all Strongville children should be systematically introduced and exposed to the idea of being able to physically pull their own weight (the ability to do pull ups) starting in kindergarten.
They use height adjustable pull up straps in conjunction with a technique called leg assisted pull ups (jumping and pulling at the same time) that together give all Strongville students a place to start, and a way to make predictable progress in small increments over time, along with friends, towards the end goal of being able to physically pull their own weight.
Naturally Immunized Against Obesity, and…
In over a decade’s worth of experience Strongville schools learned that about half of their students master the ability to physically pull their own weight within one school year. Some take longer. But by the time they walk across the graduation stage, 100% of Strongville High School’s students are capable of physically pulling their own weight.
This means that Strongville High’s graduates have naturally armed themselves against obesity for life as long as they eat and exercise in ways that allow them to maintain the ability to do at least one pull up. You see as all Strongville citizens know, people (including kids) who can perform at least one conventional pull up ARE ALMOST NEVER OBESE!
Beyond the Physical
However the physical body is only the beginning. Once students develop a solid handle on how to grow physically stronger week after week, month after month, they apply these hands-on experiences to subjects like reading, writing, and arithmetic and they grow systematically stronger in these areas as well. In other words, the experience of growing stronger physically on a regular basis provides a tangible foundation upon which to build new academic skills along with skills in music, art, the political, economic, and social sciences as well.
Seeds of Strength Sewn Far and Wide
When Strongville students finally graduate from high school, head off to college, and eventually pursue employment in various far off places, these walking, talking seeds of strength are sewn and multiplied across the world in places like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Dallas, New Orleans, Paris, London, Shanghai, and Vienna.
Thus the little town and the citizens of Strongville, IA feel destined to show people around the world how to naturally immunize themselves against obesity for life. In the process they’ll also demonstrate why learning to pull your own weight in all kinds of ways is a moral obligation that makes life meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling. Hats off to the citizens of Strongville, IA.
Rick Osbourne is a former physical educator and a pioneer in the field of functional childhood obesity prevention. He currently serves as President of the Pull Your Own Weight Foundation which is an Illinois based, 501c3, not for profit organization whose focus is functional childhood obesity prevention. He’s written and published three books in this field, the latest of which is entitled Beating Childhood Obesity Now: A Simple Solution for Parents and Educators. He’s the Examiner’s national childhood obesity prevention correspondent. He writes an online column for The Edvocate. And you can connect with Rick via Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook.