Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Inside a Boy’s Mind

"The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise and of all the exercises, walking is the best."  --Thomas Jefferson

I have always been a fast walker.  Walking just makes me feel great.  I am aware of my steps and my stride as I move towards my destination.  I enjoy walking. 

Lately, I have become painfully aware of children who are at 
unhealthy weights walking to and from school.  I notice them when 
I am driving to and from work, which is next door to an elementary

One day, I saw him.  The boy was standing by himself at the corner of the school, a gray sweatshirt zipped up and the hood covering his head.  He waited to cross the street after school.  He didn’t step forward, even though the road was clear.  His head remained looking down at the sidewalk, as if unsure of which direction to go or how to take the next step.  What was unusual was that it was May and we were in south Florida and it was hot, with tropical temperatures and high humidity locked in for summer.  He had to be boiling hot inside that zipped up sweatshirt.  But he didn’t move. 

The boy, probably 9 or 10, appeared to be very overweight.  As a mother, I worried about him standing there.  Why was he standing so still in the mid-afternoon heat?  Why was he wearing a sweatshirt all zipped up and the hood pulled over his head?  Was he thinking about how little energy he had for the walk home?  Were his legs painfully chafed from rubbing against his jeans? Or was he silently wishing someone he knew would drive by, notice him and give him a ride home because he was out of breath from carrying the excess weight? Did another child at school make fun of him for being fat?  Was he paralyzed with fear about having to go back to school the next day to face more taunting?  Perhaps, he was hoping that if he stayed still long enough and hid inside the sweatshirt, no one would notice him and his oversized body. 

Children do not ask to be overweight.  The added pounds come on gradually, not overnight.   How does it happen?  An extra serving of white rice here, a large Coke there.  Sandwiches on white bread because the white bread from Walmart is cheap.  The drive- through window at McDonald’s is where the kids can order a cheap dinner from the dollar menu.  Cheap food?  I think not. What parents might consider cheap food is really expensive, at least in the lives of young children who get addicted to the salt, sugar, and fat it contains.  The consequences of an unhealthy weight, especially for a child, are so significant but as adults we look at it as adults, not from the child' perspective.  What is it really like to be inside the mind of a child who is screaming inside to be healthy and to love to know the pleasure of walking but no one is listening?
Are you helping your children to make healthy choices about food and fitness?  Do you know know any parents who could use some inspiration?  Please support Growing Healthy Kids and our health literacy projects to reverse, halt, and prevent childhood obesity.  We’d love to come to your neighborhood!

Thank you,

Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.