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COLE CAMP—It’s time to get moving. That’s the message of the “Move Across Missouri” program to 4-H youth and their families.
Since 2008, more than 1,200 people have signed up for the program, which encourages participants to keep active by having them track how much time they spend in physical activity.
“With TV, video games and other opportunities people have to be sedentary, this is a fun way for young people to be physically active,” said Alison Copeland, state youth development specialist for University of Missouri Extension 4-H.
By keeping a running tally, 4-H’ers can see how a few minutes or an hour here and there quickly adds up. In 2010, more than 460 people signed up for Move Across Missouri. About 300 of them regularly recorded their activity throughout a four-month competition period. Participants logged almost 100,000 hours—nearly 6 million minutes—of physical activity.
One 4-H family in Missouri took the challenge to the next level.
Longtime Benton County 4-H volunteer Tina Ives and son Dylan Carver, a former 4-H’er who is now a freshman in college, have lost more than 50 pounds each since they resolved to keep active and eat better.
When Ives and Carver’s 4-H club started participating in Move Across Missouri last year, the club began to incorporate physical activity into meetings and events. Healthier food was served at club events: fruit kebabs instead of donuts, for example, and lean ground beef, courtesy of the Missouri Beef Industry Council, which sponsors the program.
During one outing, Ives realized she needed to do a better job of practicing what she preached. “We took them for a walk up to the top of a hill,” she recalls. “Halfway up the hill, we had to stop just so I could catch my breath. I realized that I can’t teach a child to eat healthy and live healthy if I’m not an example of doing that myself. I didn’t feel good. I was embarrassed, and I decided it was time to get right.”
She asked her son if he wanted to improve his diet too. Dylan was skeptical. “After I lost my first 10 pounds, he thought it was pure luck,” she said. “When I got to 35 pounds, he said if I could make it to 50, he’d try it.”
Ives did, and Dylan kept his word. Both mother and son say that these days they have more energy and feel better about themselves.
“I used to want to wear a jacket or a hoodie to try and hide the weight,” said Dylan. “Now I’m just wearing shorts, I’m wearing T-shirts, and I’m out there every day walking and doing things I enjoy.”
The health habit can be contagious, Copeland said. “What we’re finding is that young people who are involved in Move Across Missouri are getting other young people involved and their families as well. So youth are providing leadership and a role-model experience for others.”