Pull Your Own Weight: The democratizing effects of beating childhood obesity at an early age
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A column by Rick Osbourne
One interesting consideration when starting an Operation Pull Your Own Weight childhood obesity prevention project at an early age (K, 1, 2) is the fact that it will do very little for naturally athletic kids who are already genetically (or socially, psychologically, economically, etc.) predisposed to being strong, light, and well-coordinated.
Natural Athletes Don’t Benefit Much
That is to say, natural athletes benefit very little from an Operation Pull Your Own Weight childhood obesity prevention project because the skills that ALL KIDS will now learn to master (starting in kindergarten) will be mastered by natural athletes whether they’re exposed to the OPYOW intervention or not.
By contrast, those kids who’d normally be left behind because they’re NOT predisposed to being athletic WILL AVOID BEING LEFT BEHIND because they’ll actively arm themselves against obesity for life by learning and maintaining the ability to do pull ups (which demands decent eating and exercise habits and 30 seconds per week). The confidence boost that results from this experience alone is beyond calculation. But there’s more. Check it out.
Nothing Succeeds Like Success
When all kids learn THEY CAN TACKLE A DIFFICULT TASK like learning to do pull ups in front of their peers, and when they succeed week after week, month after month every time they touch the bar, they LEARN TO EXPECT SUCCESS instead of failure. Since nothing succeeds like success, those expectations spill over into the way kids approach all kinds of other things including their reading, writing, math, and science. Yes, academic performances benefit as well!
Embedded Deep Into the Psychological DNA
It also influences the way kids approach social relationships and it reduces the odds of there being a bully in class. Kids also learn patience, planning, persistence, and mutual respect. And those characteristics color the way they interact with the world around them.
Meanwhile, the gap between those kids who are naturally at the top of the athletic pecking order and those who are naturally at the bottom is systematically reduced. The playing field is leveled by RAISING THE PERFORMANCES OF THOSE WHO NEED IMPROVEMENT, WHILE AT LEAST NOT HINDERING THE PERFORMANCES OF THOSE WHO DON’T. And if all this begins at a very young age, when experiences tend to become embedded into kids’ psychological DNA, it will carry over for the rest of their lives.
Disruptive Behavior Reduced
With the playing field leveled and the pecking order gap systematically reduced, the negative experiences that cause many kids to feel frustrated, ashamed, angry, cynical, ostracized, embarrassed, humiliated, and alienated are significantly reduced. And at this point the face saving, defensive behaviors that disrupt so many classrooms are diminished simultaneously.
As Performances Improve…
With disruptive behaviors systematically minimized and student confidence levels enhanced, the DEMOCRATIZING CHEMISTRY resulting from the OPYOW intervention at an early age will make the school, the neighborhood, and the community a better, more democratic place in which to live, work, and play.
Saluting the Flag of Democracy
Although OPYOW’s main focus is childhood obesity prevention, that doesn’t mean the ripple effects of solving one very big problem won’t influence the lives of participants in an infinite number of other ways. And by making the school, the neighborhood, and the community a better place, those natural athletes who are already predisposed to being strong, light, and well-coordinated, will benefit indirectly from the democratizing effects of OPYOW. They’ll just be a little less privileged than they’d have been otherwise. And for those of us who salute the flag of democracy, that’s a move in the right direction.
Rick Osbourne is 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