August 8, 2008

Young people in two eastern Kentucky counties got off the couch and into the gym during recent 4-H camps.

The camps, "Dunk on Drugs" in Morgan County and "Fun Fitness Camp" in Rowan County, got participants moving by teaching them basketball fundamentals in a non-competitive atmosphere. The goal of the camps was to make exercising an enjoyable experience for youths.

"Our kids don't know how to play anymore. They don't know how to get out and be physically active," said Kim Cox, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension 4H Youth development agent in Morgan County.

The camps are based on the "Putting Fun back into Basketball and Fitness FUNdamentals" curriculum by Sandy "Spin" Slade, a former professional basketball entertainer. Cox and Rowan County 4H Youth Development Agent Raven Ford learned about the curriculum while attending a national 4-H agent's meeting. The two agents were members of the same college basketball team, so it was a natural way for them to help young people get exercise.

Participants were not required to have any prior basketball experience to go to the camps, which focused on the fundamentals of shooting, passing and dribbling.

"The way it was set up, all the kids were moving at all times," Ford said.

Not only did the camps provide an outlet for the young people to burn off some summertime energy, but they were conducted at little to no cost to the camper. The agents were able to secure funds for the event from several different sponsors. Morgan County's camp was sponsored by the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy. The Rowan County camp was funded by a Wal-Mart grant. Morehead Parks and Recreation and Morehead Preschool Center allowed the camp to use its equipment and facilities. At both camps, each camper was given a T-shirt and water bottle and served snacks and lunch daily.

In addition to the fitness camps, both 4-H agents have offered several different physical fitness activities for youths. In Morgan County, youths recently participated in the Longest Day of Play and were active in their communities for eight straight hours. During this time, the young people participated in activities such as swimming and volleyball at local parks. Cox also conducts a physical fitness program aimed at teenagers that focuses on healthy living and building self esteem.

Ford recently had a health camp that focused on healthy eating and increased exercise. She also teaches nutrition lessons to young people throughout the year during school visits and has a Literacy, Eating Activity for Preschoolers program at a day care.

News Topics: