Hey, Sports Illustrated or ESPN’s 30 For 30, here’s a story for you.
Seven or eight years ago the Children and Families Commission of Orange County California received one of the many alarming reports on the astonishing rise in childhood obesity in the communities it serves. (This Commission receives a portion of the cigarette tax revenues collected in cCalifornia and spends it on young children and their families so that those children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter kindergarten –between $20 and $30 million annually.)
The problem of overweight-on-their-way-to-obese kids is particularly acute in poor neighborhoods with few sports facilities, especially if those neighborhoods have crime issues, making parks dangerous options especially in after-school hours.
So in 2007 the Commission decided on an experiment: It would fund the construction of an aquatics complex in Santa Ana, California, in a partnership with the Santa Ana Unified School District and the YMCA. Three pools would be built, two at the YMCA property in Santa Ana, California and one Olympic size pool on the adjacent grounds of the SAUSD’s Segerstrom High School. The idea was to build a swimming/water polo culture in a community where the facilities didn’t previously exist, and then hope that enthusiasm for the sports would take root and spread. It took some time for the details to get worked out, but the pools got built.
Build it and they will swim.
Message to the First Lady: The eating-right message is a good one, but push for school districts and communities to build pools and safe sports facilities and hire great coaches like Tim Frederickson to teach fitness through discipline and hard work.
This isn’t rocket science.