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Tony Zizza

"No More Excuses For Unfit Kids"
By Tony Zizza
Oct 24, 2007 - 1:00:34 AM

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An article appeared in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper the other day that found a way to surprise me. I'm pleasantly surprised The Georgia Youth Fitness Assessment reccomends that "parents should serve as role models for healthy behaviors." I was under the impression that as far as public schools were concerned, parents have been deemed irrelevant.

Just witness the recent public school insanity in the socially progressive state of Maine where a middle school is handing out birth control to very young male and female students. One has to wonder if we have already reached the point in our culture when "Well, anything goes!" has morphed into abject criminality. I mean, if public schools are hell bent on blaming Bush for No Child Left Behind and want to offer alternatives to improve test scores and accountability, is setting up a pharmacy for depravity on taxpayer property the way to do it?

But getting back to yet another "study" that proves the obvious. Too many children in Georgia, and throughout the nation for that matter, are out of shape. Study after study after study seems to put the figure of out of shape kids at about or more than 50 percent. This is unacceptable. And we know it to be pretty well true even if the study is done by a private foundation or a government entity. Just look at the average kid these days. I dare you to ask them to drop down and give you twenty push-ups!

Where I disagree with The Georgia Youth Fitness Assessment is here. One of their reccomendations is that "Policymakers should make childhood obesity a top priority and support programs to increase physical activity." We don't need the government to dictate the obvious to us, and go about forming new committees, study programs, and on and on and on.  All children and parents really need is a basic return to common sense.

We can accomplish this by returning a vigorous physical education class, (P.E.), back to all public schools. Common sense dictates P.E. exist in public schools. If Ritalin and the birth control Patch are quite common and familiar, why not real physical fitness? Students are of course not required to join a host of school sports, but by golly, they better pass their given physical education class. It should be graded the same way a History or Math class is graded.

After all, there are no excuses for why kids cannot be physically fit. Parents ought to teach their kids that they need to be both physically and mentally fit. You don't have to choose only one state of mind. Both are possible and needed in this dynamic culture of ours.

It's worth noting how kids perhaps reached the point of physical unfitness that they possess. And while they themselves and their parents are to blame, (but can always change), public school policies have not served anyone well. Schools all across the country have banned the game of tag. Physical education classes have been cut. Drugs like Ritalin and Prozac are still a part of the public school routine. A sedentary lifestyle has spun out of control. Kids know who all the celebrities are, but they seem to not be concerned with the fact basic physical fitness tests leave them virtually - breathless.

Nonetheless, we can wax on and off about this until the cows come home. Physical fitness is a reality just as much as tomorrow morning the sun will rise. Kids themselves know they are and have become out of shape. Their parents see it with their own eyes, but prefer not to take action. Instead, they join them in front of the boob tube or on the computer playing all kinds of games for hours on end.

Again, study after study after study is always released every fall. And we all know the questions and answers. Kids and their parents need to make physical fitness a part of their lifestyle. If a kid and his or her parent is flat out of shape, destiny does not have it where this be a permanent thing. As the old saying goes in regard to overcoming personal problems, you have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.

This is not to say it's a simple thing being a kid. Or a parent. There are stumbling blocks all along the way. In order to be one step ahead, you have to carry a positive attitude that includes a commitment to feeling good physically. This of course does not mean sending your "child" into a Maine middle school to get free birth control, or as morally deviant parents and school administrators call it - "the resources they need." It's worth repeating, when did public schools become pharmacies for crying out loud? A public middle school should have nothing to do with handing out psych drugs or birth control.

The best way for kids and their parents to ensure a safe and healthy life together as a family is to exercise with each other on a regular basis. It can be something as simple as taking a handful of walks together every week. At a park, on a trail, on a bike. Whatever. Just make it - somewhere. And do it with meaning and a willingness to sweat. Only good things can happen. Imagine the bonding and the calories that will vanish with a good 60 minute walk at least three times a week!

So, it's this kind of thinking that today's kids and parents really need. It's a numbers game. If kids and parents put the weekly hours "into" a physical fitness program, think of everything great that will come "out" of it. It's a win-win situation. There isn't anything wrong with it.

That is, unless you and your kids get your hardest work out together from passing around the television remote.

Tony Zizza


is a free-lance writer who lives in Atlanta, GA. He writes frequently about popular culture, and can be reached via email:


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