As a kid, I remember always staying active. As an only child, I either went outside to play with the neighbor kids, or risked spending entirely too much time with my dolls. Heading outdoors became the norm. I was somewhat of a tomboy, and didn’t mind climbing trees, wading through creeks, and getting a bit muddy. I also enjoyed my sports, and grew up playing football, wiffle ball, bike riding, tag, you name it. My interest in physical activity at a young age later translated into playing organized sports in school, including field hockey and track. My interest in running was instant, and has stuck with me into my 30s, much to my delight. I can say without a doubt, the fact my parents encouraged me at such a young age to get out and play has led to my passion for exercise now.
I wish more parents were like mine.
Rather than sit a child in front of a TV, video game or computer, why not limit their time indoors? Suggest your child go outside to play kickball with friends, or take a nice bike ride around the neighborhood. Not only will your child have fun, but will also feel better about him or herself while staying fit.
Childhood obesity is a serious problem, as we know. It’s more than tripled in the past three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parents, teachers and other mentors can play a huge role here to try to reverse this worrisome trend. There are so many programs and activities out there for all ages and all types.
A friend told me about a particularly intriguing one held down at Barrall Park on State Street. It’s called Tiny Tennis Center, and it’s a six-lesson program for two to six-year-olds that runs throughout the summer.
Tiny Tennis Center concept was created by tennis professional, Jill Walker. Walker’s passion for tennis began when she was a teen. She played through high school and college, and then she gained experience in marketing and public relations, working for the U.S. Tennis Association and U.S. Open.
Walker, who has lived in various areas of the Delaware Valley, has been teaching lessons since college. She’s certified to teach all ages, but has invested a particular interest in kids. Walker spends much of the colder months teaching at Springton Tennis and Racquet Club, as well as at her Tiny Tennis Center location in Skippack, PA. During the spring and summer, she’s able to run programs, like the one in Media, at remote locations as well.
"I enjoy teaching the kids. I think these programs get looked over, and there’s tons of potential here. Learning tennis helps children develop motor and hand-eye skills. They learn about fitness, balance, jumping and just being active on the court," says Walker. "Using different equipment, I take each child through different stages. Once they progress, they have success and gain self-confidence."
Walker stresses the importance of getting kids in the game early, no matter what the activity.
"Kids don’t get out and play enough. As children are growing, they go through spurts, especially young boys. Physical stimulation is helpful for all ages, and aids in oxygen flow throughout the body. It’s really important to educate them, feed them right and plan activities for them. It has a big effect on their longevity, and the life choices they make," says Walker.
For more information on Tiny Tennis Center and the programs offered, including tennis birthday parties and special events, visit the website or call 610-680-6300.