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Getting Sparks kids fit the Tracy Wolf way
by Damian Tromerhauser
Mar 18, 2012 | 1190 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Over the years, the importance of making sure that children in the community get involved and stay active has grown in relation to the health of the youth. One of the largest advocates behind encouraging the movement of getting kids in the Sparks area fit is Tracy Wolf.

Wolf, who has been a P.E. teacher at Shaw Middle School since the school opened in 2004, is committed to helping improve the lives of kids through bettering their fitness. She has helped run Family Fun Fitness Nights at local middle schools and is involved in many groups that promote a healthy lifestyle for kids, including the Middle School Athletic Leadership Committee and the K-8 P.E. and Wellness Initiative Committee, as well as being a part of the Nevada Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

It is the fear of the unhealthy lifestyle that her students and other kids can grow into that motivates Wolf.

“Our obesity rate is so high,” Wolf said. “Our national obesity rate is on the rise and so are the rates for diabetes so it’s really important for the kids to learn for their health. It’s important to teach them to get out there and move. We have to instill in them how to be healthy and eat right and exercise. Research shows that this is the first generation that may not live as long as their parents. That’s scary.”

One of the main things that Wolf wants to promote through her involvement with the many groups she is a part of is to get others in the community in getting the local youth out and moving.

“We work together with the county to try and promote elementary P.E.,” Wolf said. “We want to get more activity involvement in our classrooms because we don’t have any P.E. teachers at the elementary level. We have put together things on the website for our district that teachers can pull off and have lesson plans for P.E. They also can do ‘Jam in Minutes’ which is just getting the blood pumping to the brain. Teachers take one minute out of their time of teaching and get the kids up and moving and then sit right back down and then they’re ready to go again. The research shows that with the movement, the blood gets flowing to the brain and the students do much better in their academics that way.”

Wolf said that it is a key point to target those in elementary school in order to teach them the proper skill sets and lessons at an early age.

“The problem with our kids in seventh and eighth grade is it might be the first time they’ve had P.E.  Research shows that by the third grade, kids have made the decision as to whether or not they’re going to be active. So it’s really important we get the elementary kids going and make sure they have good experiences so that they want to do it,” Wolf said. “It’s so important that we keep those kids having fun and staying involved during their elementary years so that they want to continue to do it. It’d really be nice if we could get it going in our elementary schools so that those kids have more exposure.”

To ensure that the kids take an interest in her lessons and participate, Wolf said she tries to guarantee that they have a good time.

“I just try to keep the kids liking the activities so that they stay motivated throughout their lives,” Wolf said. “My goal is always to emphasize the enjoyment of physical activity so they remain healthy and continue to do physical activities and stay active throughout their lives.

“I think the most important way to go about it is to show them and model it. You have to demonstrate and teach them fun activities that they want to do and let them choose how to go about being active. There are a lot of different opportunities for students. We have a great place in our community for hiking, biking, all kinds of things. We have a community here full of resources. With our mountains and lakes there’s just so much available to go out and do. With all that is available to us, it is just important to get their awareness just to help them increase their self-esteem and confidence to continue to be healthy. We need to let them know that they can gain some skill if they practice and it can be fun and they can do this. It’s just important to emphasize that enjoyment.”

Wolf said that one of the most important things about teaching and providing kids with the countless opportunities that are available to them is the fact that they themselves will get others involved as well.

“I want to provide the students with lessons and ideas that they can take home and do and do with their families. Sometimes it just takes that little ‘Oh yeah, we can do that.’ When I taught rollerblading the kids were just so excited to involve their families in it as well,” Wolf said. “Those success stories are the reason you do it. That’s what touches your heart. If you were successful for one or two people, that’s all it takes just to get the wheels going and get the community going and staying active.”

It is these types of accomplishments and realizations that drives Wolf’s drive.

“It’s a passion,” Wolf said. “It’s just something that I really enjoy doing because I personally too like to stay physically active and enjoy hiking and biking and all that stuff too. I guess it’s just something that I love to do and want to model for others any second of my weekends and any time I have free. It’s something I love to do and I want to pass that on to my students. Hopefully they will enjoy it and stay healthy. Our society now is just so much about fast food and so fast paced. We just really have to stay up on our exercise to keep us healthy.

“Watching somebody have success in a skill that they didn’t know they’re were capable of or something they didn’t believe they could do. Just seeing the smiles on their face and the excitement they show when they have accomplished a task. It’s great.”
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