Reading and Exercise – Two Keys to Healthy Children

Recently I had the opportunity to spend time with schoolchildren engaging in two activities I believe have the ability to positively change their lives forever.

Last week, I got to read to first-graders at Oklahoma City’s new Cesar Chavez Elementary School. This week, I walked to school with elementary students at Millwood’s prekindergarten through 8th-grade school.

Reading and exercise are two key areas that have enormous benefits for children. What a difference it would make in the lives of children if parents or other caring adults would turn off the TV and take the time to first read a book with them and then take them outside for some exercise and fresh air.

We know in Oklahoma children are not getting enough of either activity. But we have the chance to change that.

Let me share a little of my own experience.

In the second grade, I was struggling a bit. My dad had been promoted several times and we’d moved around, and I was delayed in reading. My second grade teacher, Jane Foresman, made a special effort to work with me. She stayed with me during recess. She not only taught me how to read, she also gave me a love for books.

The self-confidence she gave me was immeasurable. I’m forever grateful for her influence.

As the mother of two very active, athletic sons, I also know how important exercise is in the life of a child.

This week at Millwood, I had the opportunity to visit with Gary Cox, director of the Oklahoma City County Health Department. We discussed studies that show that just the simple activity of walking to school can help reduce childhood obesity and help improve energy and focus in young brains.

So this week, I challenge you: pick a favorite book and read it with a child. Then go out and skate, run, walk, bike, jump rope, swim or any of the other physical activity you might enjoy. I promise the benefit you will see will be worth the effort.

Last updated on December 14, 2011