The National AfterSchool Association is the leading voice of the afterschool profession dedicated to development, education, and care of children and youth during their out of school hours.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Do It

Register for the GO FAR race
 at the 2012 convention

Nike's iconic trademark and motto are universally recognized. They convey an image and message of self-reliant athleticism that leads to success. Buying Nikes is easy, but it’s the regular usage of them that is not so much fun for some.

I think that most people I know and meet in the world of afterschool education are knowledgeable. But I find too many that fail to act as effectively as they can on what they know. Most of us know what's right to do. We understand what actions and behaviors will lead to desirable outcomes, but we often fail to act on what we know is right. Like our kids, we sometimes just need some gentle (or perhaps not so gentle) reminders. That's really the essence of most of my blog entries - practical, common sense advice and reminders of things most of us already know. My intent is that with a little nudge, these reminders will prompt you (and me) to take action and realize significant change as professionals.

Take exercising, for example. Or even more so, consider how the role modeling of good exercise, eating, and healthy living habits impacts your kids. Do you have an interest and commitment to reduce the incidence of childhood and adult obesity?

We don't lack for knowing what to do about that issue. We lack for doing something about it.

When I get on my soapbox about this issue and gently (or not so gently) nudge, I sometimes stir up anxieties and feel tension within my audiences. I observe a consensus that afterschool professionals intellectually know what they should do, but they allow too many barriers or obstacles to get in the way. And more than any other barriers, our self-imposed choices get in the way and prevent us from adopting a healthier lifestyle.

My blogs are also intended to push your mind-set, challenge your methodologies, educate, encourage, nudge, and help you achieve success regardless of your circumstances. It's my hope that reading my words will enlighten you to move beyond the information I share (much of which I know you already know) and inspire you to take action.

So again, let’s reflect on exercising, personally and with our program staff and participants.  Most of us would like to increase our personal level of fitness. We can't refute or deny what the research says. Most of us are informed and know what we should do, we just don't do it. We lack conviction to embrace change. But with a collective effort, I think most of us can make changes necessary to improve our health – and many other facets of our personal and professional lives. It is imperative that we teach our kids how to do so, both in school and afterschool.

At last year's NAA convention, we partnered with the North Carolina-based GO FAR (Go Out For A Run) Club to sponsor a 5k race/fun walk as part of our convention. This year, we anticipate 750-1000 kids from the Frisco, TX, schools and other nearby areas to participate in our second event (all those little people might trample us old folks). I envision a glorious spectacle. Afterschool program leaders, particularly in Frisco, have embraced the 10-week eating and fitness program from GO FAR as an actionable way to inform, teach, engage, and actually do something alongside their kids to create change. You can, too.

Check out this inexpensive program at  Start a club in your afterschool program. Create change. You'll have many reasons and outcomes to celebrate after just 10 weeks.

Come on, just do it!

Paul G. Young, Ph. D.
President & CEO
National AfterSchool Association

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