More than 2 years ago, we kicked off our Inspire the World to Fitness™ campaign with an interactive town hall meeting at the 2003 IDEA Personal Trainer Summit® in Washington, DC. The exchange between delegates and panelists was lively and revealing, giving us a taste of what we were onto with this ambitious mission. Afterward, a few panelists joined us for lunch, where the discussion about the deadly combination of obesity and inactivity continued. A viewpoint stated at that lunch seemed bold and shocking at the time: One panelist suggested that perhaps the best way fitness professionals could make a real difference would be to take their focus off working with adults, which he considered something of a lost cause in the overweight and obesity battle, and get to the business of helping children before it was too late.
How eerily prophetic and haunting this philosophy sounds today. There is no question that adults still need the guidance and encouragement that fitness professionals provide. But the simple reality is that millions of children are unhealthy and hurting because they are inactive and overweight and lack basic guidance on the dangers of poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. They desperately need your help just to step out of the “on-deck circle” of youth for a swing at a decent, healthy adulthood. Never mind the inconceivable financial burden that will impact all of us as a result of the illnesses associated with these problems; we are talking about the lives of young people—the future of our world. If kids are getting type 2 diabetes and showing symptoms of hypertension and cardiovascular disease before they even reach puberty, the outlook for their life spans is grim. Who will our future leaders be? Who will carry on with the hopes, dreams and legacies of our generation and the generations to come?
Thinking about how to solve this crisis can take your breath away. It can be overwhelming to track the statistics on child health, watch them spiraling out of reach and try to figure out what to do. “Where do I start?” you might ask. “How can I possibly make a difference?” While there is no single answer, we hope the many ideas presented in this issue—which focuses on program models, exercise research and nutrition for children—arm you with the knowledge you need and inspire you to take action.
IDEA members everywhere have shared stories of successful programs they’ve developed and synergies they’ve formed with educators, parents and funding organizations. Some of our members’ challenges and creative solutions are recounted in these pages. When you take a moment to consider that the successful outcomes of these stories probably mean thousands of kids have been put on the right track, you’ll begin to appreciate the possibilities, as we do.
We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at 2005 IDEA Fitness Fusion—Chicago® at the end of April (April 28–May 1). We hope you’ll share more of your strategies and success stories with us and the IDEA staff in person. Children are indeed our future. But each of you is instrumental in ensuring that these kids even have a future to enjoy.
IDEA Member Spotlight, page 11. Meet some outstanding members and read what they’re doing to Inspire the World to Fitness™!
Yours in good health,
Kathie and Peter Davis