Developing healthy habits early can greatly increase a child’s ability to stay healthy for a lifetime. That is why so many gyms and even schools in Johnson County are doing their part to help develop active, health-conscious children by implementing after-school fitness programs, organized runs and walks.
Prairie Elementary School in Prairie Village has developed a health and wellness committee that works to keep students healthy and active. The committee has organized a different monthly event, such as riding bikes one month or walking another month, and has also organized a Prairie Panther Walking Club.
“The club has over 100 girls and boys from kindergarten to sixth grade,” said Deborah Mower, mother of two Prairie Elementary students.
The club is encouraging students to try to beat their principal in the annual Prairie Pride 5K. The run is organized by Front Door Fitness and is taking place at 8 a.m. Sept. 22.
“The club loves to organize the run, and we encourage the whole community to participate and show the kids that getting fit and being active is fun and healthy,” said Mower, co-chair of the run.
Other schools and gyms in Johnson County are assembling health programs for children as well. Ravenwood Elementary in Olathe hosts a Tiger Trot at the end of the school year. Many area schools have the Girls on the Run organization, where girls ages 8-13 participate in walking/running after school. Gyms such as Healthridge Fitness Center have developed a Fit Kids program run this year by trainer Jeremy Harris.
Harris said he thinks one of the reasons outside organizations and gyms are getting so involved is because in some places, physical education is getting less emphasis.
“Kids are spending more and more time on computers at school and at home,” Harris said. “Kids need exercise. We saw a need here and went with it.”
Harris said during the hour he oversees students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he focuses on things like circuit training, running, playing basketball, swimming and other activities.
“We just want the kids to have fun while being active,” Harris said. “I absolutely love working with them and helping them learn to enjoy exercise. It’s my favorite part of the job.”
Harris said he knows other gyms are starting programs too, or are leaning in that direction.
“I think people are starting to get more involved everywhere in helping kids get back what many have lost with so much investment in electronics,” Harris said. “Kids need to be active, get moving and have fun doing it. It’s nothing but beneficial for them.”