In Mississippi, twenty two percent of kids are considered obese. And while obesity in itself is alarming, when you factor in COVID, the risk of our children becoming severely sick is increased substantially. The delta variant, an even more transmissible strain of COVID, is attacking our children in greater numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the COVID infection for kids aged 5 to 17 were higher than the rates in adults over 50. Quite a change from where we started with the first iteration of this virus.
A British Journal of Sports Medicine study shows that “consistently meeting physical activity guidelines was STRONGLY associated with a reduced risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.” Researchers found that those who were infected with COVID but were more active before contracting the virus were the least likely to be hospitalized or die because of it.
I’ve always believed in the power of exercise and that real change needs to start with our kids. My vision is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world. That’s where the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) comes in. Through the NFGFC, I am making that happen by motivating children across the country to make fitness a priority by giving the schools the tools they need to be successful.
Our kids, when given the opportunity and support, strive to be physically active. So far, we’ve visited 36 states and have delivered nearly 500 state-of-the-art $100,000 DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers, and this year we are delivering fitness centers to the great state of Mississippi as well as New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Maine. In each school we’ve visited, the excitement about getting fit has been palpable.
I think we can all agree, it’s been a tough couple of years. The pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world, and our attention is often drawn to news stories that weigh us down with all that is wrong, scary, and sad. Yet I know that for every depressing article, there’s an enlightening story that may never make the news. It’s amazing what happens when teachers, students, and communities come together in the name of health, fitness and hope. In fact, every time we gift our fitness centers to a state, I meet people who go above and beyond and should have the spotlight shined on them for the efforts that they’ve taken to help kids thrive physically.
This isn’t a democrat nor republican issue; this is a kids issue. Our children are a beacon of hope and when we put them first, we can expect them to live long, productive, and healthy lives. Prioritizing fitness is a powerful way to change our children’s future for the better.
By combating childhood obesity, not only are our kids getting healthy, increasing their energy, boosting their self-esteem, and improving their overall confidence, but we are also strengthening their bodies to help them fight this pandemic. In my opinion, exercise IS a “vaccine” that helps strengthen our immune systems to help fight infection. Being idle has imperiled our children, but a program like ours can change a child’s outlook on life forever. Exercise gives our kids a fighting chance!