June 25, 2010
Most people's first experience with the President's Council on Fitness, Sport and Nutrition is the Presidential Challenge, the test given to school-aged children to measure their fitness. Three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes, the recently named co-chair of the council, fondly remembers excelling in the challenge.
"I did the sit and reach, and I reached so far that I hit my head on the block, and I had a knot on my head for a week," Dawes told Fourth-Place Medal. "I got to 33 chin-ups before the teacher said, "Enough. You've beaten everyone and all the boys in the school." For someone like me, the President's Challenge was exciting."
Some students dread the challenge, but Dawes wants to changes children's attitudes on staying healthy.
Dawes, who has served as a Yahoo! Sports correspondent for the past two Olympics, said she jumped at the chance to work with the President and Mrs. Obama on making our nation healthier.
"It's something that I've been passionate about for almost a decade now, so when the White House called, it was a no-brainer. It's something I've enjoyed doing in the past, and I look forward to doing it on a national level for the President and the First Lady."
Dawes singles out Mrs. Obama as a good role model in maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.
"Michelle came to an Council event, and she was so excited and energetic that she started jumping rope with me and the kids! She's out there, in the community. She's not just talking the talk, she's walking the walk."
Speaking of walking, Dawes said that's an easy way for a family to get moving.
"Get outside, join your kids and go for a walk. It sounds very simple and very basic and sounds like it won't make a difference, but it will. That's a good way to start. Go for a walk. It will be great family time. Ask your children how their day was, how they're doing in school."
Though she became an elite athlete early in life, Dawes believes that it's important for children to know that they don't have to be a superstar to get active.
"It's not about them becoming the next Tiger Woods or the next Kobe Bryant. It's about them going out and learning from each of their experiences. Winning and losing is what a lot of people focus on, but it's about learning work ethic, commitment, discipline and teamwork. All those qualities that they will use later in life."
Dawes says that parents need to serve as good examples for their children.
"If we have more parents preaching that and getting out, and getting involved with their kids and being good role models, they will guide their children in the right direction."
Click here to read more about the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.