Vote now for the PSAs that we created along with Public Broadcasting Atlanta and the Rosel Fann Recreation Center Teen Club!
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by Katie Kenreich
Each time Liz Lieberman, Gary Lieberman, and Katie Kenreich, from TAYF, come to speak with the Rosel Fann Recreation Center Teen Club, the number of students running to greet them increases; today is no exception. Many of the kids’ faces are familiar, but it seems as though a few other students have heard about the Teen Club’s work with TAYF and have decided to join in the excitement. The time spent at this site continues to become more and more rewarding for Liz, Gary, & Katie.
The previous week, after Hildegard (“H”) Regan–who spoke to the Teen Club about physical health–left the site, the students wrote thank you notes for her. Before all of the students arrive, some are given the opportunity to read aloud excerpts from their notes in front of Gary’s video camera. With their personal microphones and overhead spotlight, these kids are feeling–and acting–like movie stars!
Before today’s discussion with Liz starts, several kids are begging to do some of the warm-ups they’d learned from H: push-ups, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers are all in order.
Once everyone’s blood is pumping and energy level is elevated, Liz initiates the discussion by kneeling to the students and telling them that she understands they are “teen leaders.” She says she is told these are the kids who have hopes and dreams and plans for their future. TAYF has been asked to work with them so they can, together, come up with ways to help other teens. Liz, Gary and Katie and their guest speakers are here to convey information to this group of teen leaders that they can then share with their peers; it’s up to them to share what they’ve learned with the people they know.
One of the major concerns of Public Broadcasting Atlanta who asked TAYF to work with these teens is the low high school graduation rate amongst Georgia’s public schools. Liz shares with the kids that the average percentage of students who graduate on time from the high school which most of them will go to is about 50%. Liz hopes to gather the students’ thoughts on this statistic by asking how many of them intend to graduate from high school on time. Every individual’s hand is raised, as if on cue. When asked if they wanted to go to college, they give the exact same response. Liz must now make sure that these students will maintain these goals as they get older.
Some of the bitter realities to not graduating on time are then brought into the discussion, when Liz asks the students what they think would happen if they themselves didn’t graduate on time. Many respond that they wouldn’t have good jobs; that they would be poor, or they’d have to turn to illegal activity in order to get by. In accordance with her statement about these students being leaders, Liz then asks the Teen Club what it would it would be like for their friends to fail to graduate on time. Many responded that their peers would be alone, and one used the analogy that they’d be like a stranger lost in New York. To keep their friends from being in this position, Liz says, the students have to set the right example.
Liz also hopes to emphasize how failure to graduate on time not only affects the individual, but can have a negative impact on society as a whole. Most of the students share that they agree with this; one young man said that he didn’t want the U.S. as a whole to be known for having high dropout rates.
The task now is to come up with a way for the students to help their peers; Liz continues to express to the students that they are leaders. She explains that healthy diets, proper amounts of sleep, regular physical activity, and positive thoughts–all of which the Teen Club students either already have or will learn about with PBA and TAYF–are linked to higher graduation rates. The students promise to keep one person in mind whom they would like to impact and who is not a member of the Rosel Fann Teen Club. While thinking about this individual, each student must consider how to bring what he or she’s learned into the other’s life.
Though the time went by in a flash today, Liz, Gary, and Katie left the site feeling confident that the students will take home these messages. During her ride back from Rosel Fann, Liz gets a text from Jason–the head counselor of the Teen Club–saying that the students can’t stop talking about today’s session.
As they walk into the Rosell Fann Recreation Center for their second day with the Teen Club, Liz, Gary, and Katie of Talk About Your Future (TAYF) are excitedly greeted by some of the students. One girl is eager to share with them how much she loved the Craisins from the other day, as others are proud to show off their homework progress. As a number of the students are basketball fanatics, they are thrilled to meet the guest speaker of the day, Hildegard “H” Regan. H is a former basketball player for Northeastern University, where she received a full-ride scholarship and studied physical education. Additionally, H received an offer in 1980 to play for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. However, H isn’t here today to boast about her many accomplishments; she is going to share with the students some useful tips regarding physical exercise.
H begins by asking the children about their own physical activities; daily exercise in P.E. class is the most common response, in addition to playing basketball and ballet dancing. H adds that playing a sport or doing basic workouts doesn’t have to be the only source of exercise, but that general fitness activities–such as walking one’s dog–can also have a large impact. Additionally, she stresses the importance of being active for about one hour per day; this sounds a bit rigorous, so H proceeds to work on some fun exercises with the kids.
They start by doing calisthenics – exercise movements that don’t require equipment, such as jumping jacks and sit-ups. Some of the students are also rewarded free jump ropes for volunteering to perform calisthenics exercises in front of the group. This segues into a period in which several students are able to demonstrate their jump roping tricks and abilities, such as the “criss-cross” and “leprechaun.”
Some of the students tell H that though they are experiencing waves of heat from the exercise, they’re feeling very good. One boy even states that once he get’s started, he just can’t stop! This is one of the very messages H wants the students to bring home. Among the various benefits to physical activity (such as maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints and looking better), one of the greatest outcomes, H says, is feeling better overall. And at this time, across the most of the students’ flushed faces, there are high-spirited smiles.
Share On a cold and rainy Monday afternoon, seven children ranging from 4th to 8th graders gather into one of the activity rooms at Rosel Fann Recreation Center. Some are startled by the video equipment they see set up in the corner, others are curious to find out who these three strangers are in the [...]
Share This Spring (2013) Public Broadcasting Atlanta (PBA), home to WABE-FM and WPBA Television, has asked Talk About Your Future, Inc. to present a series of health talks aimed at helping middle school students stay in school and graduate on time. The talks will focus on the importance of getting enough exercise, nutrition, and [...]