NASHUA, N.H. — If you’re a Baby Boomer, then you’d probably remember President John F. Kennedy’s physical fitness program to improve the health of America’s children.
I somewhat recall taking part and trying to do the challenging exercises, but I’m unsure if I were at the elementary school or junior high level and whether the program had carried over years later.
Back then, Kennedy had nearly “a quarter of a million schoolchildren taking part in pilot projects in six states” to test his program and to encourage the nation’s schools to adopt a fitness curriculum. I’ve been trying to research if New Hampshire was indeed involved. I remember hearing about the program, but how much of it was introduced to kids is still a question mark for me.
I support the concept of healthy, active youth in our country, but a one-size-fits-all approach in school can make other kids feel intimidated or even humiliated if they can’t perform well.
In junior high, we also had swimming classes at the old YMCA’s indoor pool reserved for girls on one afternoon and boys on another, but was it every week? My memory fails me, but I look back at the time and still shudder.
At age 13, I was tall, gawky and wearing a bikini like the other schoolgirls, but they filled out their swimsuits. I was so skinny and felt embarrassed, and to make matters worse, for a kid who spent their childhood summers at Hampton Beach, I could barely swim.
I gave it my best shot, but it wasn’t pretty. And oh, the bathing caps we had to wear. Self-image can be tough on kids, especially girls.
Is it good to have recreation and exercise available for public school children?
I believe all of that helps to make a more rounded individual, especially if you can find an activity that you enjoy participating in. And President Kennedy had the right intention. Today, it makes me sad because the digital age has robbed young kids of their childhoods. Instead of being outdoors and running around and playing, many of them (not all) are sitting glued to their cellphones, tablets, video games and social media.
Societal expectations are different for our youth now. Kids grow up faster, they’re exposed to adult things earlier, they’re more sophisticated and tuned into technology and can connect on a global level. But they still need emotional support from their communities.
Here in my city, a wonderful program has just launched. A “mini” Planet Fitness has debuted inside the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua. There was a recent ribbon-cutting for the new, 442-square-foot fitness center, which will be available to Boys & Girls Club members ages 13 and older.
This way, kids can get fit and work out with their peers in an encouraging environment.
Planet Fitness, Inc. has had success with its philanthropic national initiative, “The Judgment Free Generation,” since 2016. The concept is designed to support programs that prevent bullying and promote a culture of kindness.
Chris Rondeau, Planet Fitness CEO, was present at Nashua’s fitness center unveiling. The new cardio and strength training gym was introduced by the Taymax Group, a local Planet Fitness franchisee group, in collaboration with CDM Fitness Holdings, an SBJ Capital Portfolio Company, which donated the workout equipment.
The CEO of Taymax Group is Timothy Kelleher who has fond memories of growing up in Nashua.
Fine job, everyone.
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