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posted Jan 24, 2015, 11:23 AM by jmarcotte@sau4.org

Childhood Obesity and Grit

January 23, 2015

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

the past few years in education, people have started to talk about “grit”. Grit is “loosely defined as persistence over time to overcome challenges and accomplish big goals (Duckworth, 2013, Shechtman, DeBarger, Dornsife, Rosier, & Yarnall, 2013). Grit comprises a suite of traits and behaviors, including:

  • Goal-directedness (knowing where to go and how to get there).
  • Motivation (having a strong will to achieve identified goals).
  • Self-control (avoiding distractions and focusing on the task at hand).
  • Positive mind-set (embracing challenge and viewing failure as a learning opportunity).

In our five-week winter activity program, we address both of these issues. This year, 70% of our students our participating in a life-long activity. These activities include: skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, snowshoeing and yoga. Our students are active for at least an hour and fifteen minutes in the variety of sports.

I have had the opportunity to spend some time at Ragged Mountain watching and cheering on our students. On every run, I witness our students using “grit”. I see students that have never skied maintaining self-control as they fall and get back up again on the Magic Carpet (bunny hill). I talk to students that have a goal to ski better in order to “get on the six-pack” (the chair-lift to the most challenging trails).

Most rewarding of all is observing two of our fourth graders (Joseph and Connor) working 1:1 with our parent chaperones learning how to master the “heel and toe turn”. They are preserving and not giving up! They are working on handling their frustrations and anger. They are learning about constructive feedback. These two boys are acquiring knowledge on how to deal with adversity and “sticking with it”. They are gaining wisdom that not everything comes easy and sometimes our friends will pick up a skill faster. I am impressed by their courage and desire!

Some people may ask is the time out of the classroom worth it. With the data from above and from what I see our students accomplishing and finally achieving, I say it is! These character traits and exposure to life-long sports might not increase our test scores this year. But maybe in the near future, when that middle school teacher asks one of our students to rewrite their essay or their doctor gives them the advice to loss a few pounds. The memories of NHCS’ Winter Activities will remind them and guide them that they can do it! We are planting the seeds of “grit”.