PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, CO—Airmen have been plugging away at the new fitness test for more than a year now, but they are not alone in the quest to increase their activity level on a regular basis – Air Force Space Command children are also upping their fitness levels.
The Air Force initiative Fitness in Time, began last summer through base youth programs and has had a 40-percent increase in participation since its creation, said Susan Larsen, a community and family programs specialist with the command, in an Air Force report. Activities run at least 20 minutes and are scheduled at least twice a week. They are planned with themes or different objectives in mind such as movement activities that get increase heart rates and build stamina appropriate for age groups, creative competitions, adaptations of traditional sports or activities, and fun quizzes of healthy concepts and choices.
Two specialists in the commercial youth fitness arena trained all command base youth center staffs. One focused on the importance of movement in the learning process during child development and gave them practical methods for incorporating the increased activity within their existing programs. The second taught progressive skills and drills to use with children as they practice in different sports.
“[The] workshop provided us with fun, innovative games and ideas using sports skills to teach fitness to [the children],” said Teresa Andrews, the youth director at Patrick Air Force Base, FL. “The action-based activities are not only beneficial, but also fun. After all, playtime is what being a kid is all about.”
The program at Malmstrom Air Force Base, MT, has also reached out to military home-schooled children, challenging them to improve their physical capabilities progressively. Children also take part in aerobic games and circuit training to satisfy the physical fitness portion of their day (see U.S. Air Force photo: Sarah MacClellan counts off the number of push-ups by Victoria Bishop at the youth center at the Malmstrom Base.)
“I think the program is going great,” said Paul Means, youth programs director at Malmstrom. “The kids are doing a great job…the cardiovascular and aerobic activities are tools that will last a lifetime.”