Communities That Care | Fall fest to offer youth fitness instruction

October 10, 2012 

This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., the 13th annual Downtown State College Fall Festival is excited to offer Centre County Day for Kids activities along with the Community Resource Fair and Our Community Day. Organizations from throughout the area are teaming up with State College Elementary Physical Educators, Communities That Care and the Downtown Improvement District to create a fun-filled, family atmosphere.

As a proud member of the State College Physical Education staff, I am enthusiastic about sharing our mission of creating healthy and active minds and bodies. The upbeat activities for children that we will be offering at Memorial Field will highlight the physical education academic standards created by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Six fun-filled sessions will target a variety of movement concepts including spatial awareness (self-space, levels, pathways, directions); relationships (over, under, beside); locomotor (run, skip, jump); non-locomotor (bend, stretch, twist); manipulative (throw, catch, kick); and combination — locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative —movements.

Elementary physical education is integral on many levels for a developing child. From a kinesthetic perspective, introduction to a myriad of physical skills provides a strong foundation for involvement in basic play and future involvement in organized sports. Physical activity can also affect the development of the immature human brain. A study by the University of Illinois found that increased aerobic fitness has neurocognitive benefits for children. The study showed that fit children have significantly larger basal ganglia which is important for maintaining attention and executive control. Another study noted growth in the hippocampus which influences short- and long-term memory and spatial navigation. The developmental effects of physical activity are immense, and opportunities for physical education need to be provided to each new generation.

Our community thrives on creating healthy opportunities for individuals of all ages to lead physically fit lifestyles. As an adult, it should be a priority to lead by example and focus our efforts on promoting physical activity and nutritious eating to our children. A combination of elements is required in order to establish good physical fitness habits for life and have a lasting effect on children. The mixture of an active family life that includes activities like playing in the neighborhood and exploring outdoors, a quality physical education program that includes enjoyable and active lessons, and opportunities for other positive experiences in physical settings encourage children to enjoy physical movement.

We want our great community to continue offering these excellent opportunities, so please come out and support the Downtown State College Fall Festival this Saturday. I invite you to take part in some of the amazing physical education opportunities with us at Memorial Field and to visit additional activities for children on Allen Street that will includes pony rides, a climbing wall, pumpkin decorating, puppet-making, sand-art, and other crafts and educational activities. The Discovery Space Children's Science museum will be offering an innovative weather-fest, and children are sure to enjoy the reading activities that the "Snitchin’ in the Kitchen" booth will offer.

You’re only as old as you feel!

Kirk Hoover is a State College Elementary Physical Education Teacher. This weekly column, published on Wednesdays, is a collaboration of Centre County Communities That Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley, and Philipsburg-Osceola Area School Districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities That Care serving the State College Area School District.

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