It’s March, and that probably means that a lot of us have already broken our New Year resolutions to get healthier. But that’s OK, because it’s never too late to get back on track. Your health is really important, so that’s why we want to offer everyone a chance to ‘Get Fit.’
Special Olympics Get Fit for Sports is a nation-wide program that falls under a national campaign called the President’s Challenge. Get Fit for Sports is designed to help everyone associated with Special Olympics get active and fit to promote healthy lifestyles through regular physical activity, sports participation, and healthy eating.
We’re in our second year of Get Fit for Sport and Florida needs your help.
You see, Special Olympics North America has issued a challenge to see which states can log the most points. The winners will be announced at the opening ceremony of the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey.
Right now, the Department of Health says that 33% of Florida’s population is obese. What’s more, our Healthy Athlete program shows a 24% obesity rate for our youth athletes and a 43% obesity rate for adult athletes. That’s why we’re asking you to join Team Florida and track your points to help make us the healthiest program in the nation. Every activity counts, even activities like yard work and household chores.
Some of our athletes and families have already started Get Fit for Sports – and with incredible results. One of those athletes is Jonathan Doring from Palm Beach County. Jonathan was already active in Special Olympics playing tennis, golf and softball when he decided that he decided try Get Fit for Sport two years ago. And to his family’s surprise, his dad also joined him in the challenge. After six weeks of healthy eating and walking on the treadmill Jonathan’s mom, Kathy, started to notice subtle and surprising changes. She says that, “I was no longer buying soda at the grocery store and my husband, of all people, wanted me to make a weekly trip to the local farm stand for fresh vegetables. After six weeks they both received a PALA certificate. Well, after receiving the award, Jonathan wanted to keep going on, he wanted another challenge; he wanted to join the Presidential Champions Program (PCP) now called the Get Fit for Sport Program.”
Working as a team, father and son helped push each other when someone was too sore or too tired to exercise.
Encouraged by the positive change and wanting to reach the next point level, Jonathan and his dad started going to their local YMCA three days a week for weight training and found a weight regimen specifically for tennis players. Weight training led eventually to an agility, speed and endurance program for Jonathan.
These days, Jonathan and his dad now have a goal to eventually bench-press their own body weight, says Jonathan’s mom. “As Jonathan’s strength has increased, so has his self-confidence. He has joined a local men’s tennis league and is competing in USTA adult tournaments. So, in addition to his regular Special Olympic activities he is playing tennis three days a week and weight training another three. My husband drives him to these events and rather than just spectate he walks or exercises along with his son.”
Every evening Jonathan sits down and records their points on the Get Fit for Sport Program. In 13 months Jonathan flew past the Bronze and Silver Levels and reached Gold Level. He then decided that he was going for Platinum – one million points. He promptly sat down and wrote President Obama letting him know that he was ‘going for it.’ He’s now a third of the way there with over 360,000 points!
So each time you walk your dog, finish house chores or tackle yard work, you are earning points to a healthier you (and a healthier Florida). But you don’t have to take our word for it – listen to Kathy who has seen the transformation in her family’s lifestyle, “I encourage all of Florida’s Special Olympics athletes to get involved in the Get Fit for Sport Program. I suggest you don’t do it alone. Get your parents, siblings and friends to join with you. Make the program a team effort. By encouraging one another to “keep on keeping on”, as my husband and son have done, you will not only earn awards but you and yours will enjoy happier, healthier lives as a result.”