By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
MOORE — Growing up, Jeremy Lamb was outside all the time. The Norcross, Ga. native said he spent most of his days ripping and running and doing what kids do.
Even though the 21-year-old Oklahoma City Thunder guard is only a few years removed from those days, he has noticed a disturbing trend among today’s youth, who only venture outside their homes on special occasions.
“When I grew up, I’d be outside all day,” Lamb said. “Now, kids play video games and are addicted to the TV. It’s fun outside. We had a lot of fun when I was growing up. I think them not being outside, they are missing a part of their childhood that can be fun for them. And also stay healthy.”
That was the main message Lamb and his Thunder teammates wanted to get across Wednesday when they visited Moore Central Junior High with their Fit Clinic.
More than 60 kids from seventh and eight grade got to spend an hour with Lamb, Andre Roberson and Perry Jones III. There were two fitness stations with cardio and aerobic exercises, along with two basketball stations where the Thunder players taught the basics of dribbling and shooting.
“It was a great opportunity to have them come out and talk to us,” MCJH physical education teacher Nikki Gayler said. “The kids were really excited and they looked very involved. I think they got a lot out of having these guys here and getting to learn from them.”
The Fit Clinic has been a mainstay with the Thunder organization since the franchise arrived in Oklahoma. It’s one of the many ways the players get involved with the surrounding community.
But this year, the Fit Clinic has special resonance as people are becoming more informed about the childhood obesity problems that has been growing in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012 more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. They also are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem, according to the CDCP
The issue of childhood obesity has been pushed into the public’s conscience by First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made it her No. 1 cause.
“This generation is on track to be the first generation in America that’s less healthy than their parents,” Obama told WebMd. “That’s outrageous. We don’t have time to wait to do something about this.”
That means encouraging kids to get out and exercising instead of becoming coach potatoes. And very few people have the clout to make that happen like professional athletes.
“It’s very important,” Jones said. “If we show them that we can have good days and not just sit around and play video games, and they look up to us, hopefully they will follow in our footsteps.”
According to eighth-grader Dakota Smith, having members of the Thunder encourage them to get fit could get kids to put down their games and check outside for fun.
“I thought it was really neat,” Smith said. “Because you never really get to meet anybody that’s in sports. Like NBA or MLB. It was like a dream come true. It was really fun. I think it will help. Some kids just play games all day and they don’t realize how bad it is for them.”
Jimi Fleming, Public Information Officer for Moore Public Schools, said many of the kids in Moore who are still dealing with the effects of the May 20 tornado could find themselves falling into the rap of childhood obesity. But hopefully encouragement from the Thunder will give them a push they may need.
“Everybody handles a crisis and tragedy a little bit differently,” Fleming said. “If there are any of those students who may have become a little bit more sedentary, because of that experience, this is another way of showing them that you get up and move on. We’ve got players on the team that work through injuries. They just don’t sit. They get up and move forward. It’s a great example they’re setting for us.”
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