Getting obese, inactive and Internet-obsessed kids in physically-fit condition is the goal of NikeGO, a $50,000, 14-community physical activity program funded by the Portland, Ore. athletic wear company Nike.
Last summer, members of Boys and Girls’ Clubs around the country were asked to submit their wish list naming what would actually get them excited about physical activity.
On Kaua’i, NikeGO funding is going to the IMUA! Heritage Canoeing Program. The organization launched fiberglass outrigger paddling canoe in Wailua River last Wednesday. About 20 new members ages 9 – 15 took the canoe out for a trip, joined by Boys and Girls Club leaders and representatives from Nike.
The Boys and Girls Club, Kapa’a Clubhouse, received $25,000 to purchase the canoe, and Nike is providing equipment and clothing worth about $25,000 for young paddlers who take part in the program.
Last summer, 250 Boys and Girls Clubs submitted proposals. The Kapa’a clubhouse was the only program chosen in Hawai’i.
The lack of kids’ activities on the island and a demographic study showing inactivity among the youth of Kaua’i were factors in choosing the Kapa’a Clubhouse, said Molly White, United States community affairs director for Nike.
Other Boys and Girls Clubs, including ones located in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and Boston proposed wilderness camps, swimming lessons, street hockey and dance classes.
“Whatever money we can bring into the state to fund local programs is great, to educate children on physical activity, nutrition and smoking cessation,” said Wendy Nihoa, community outreach coordinator for the state Department of Health’s Healthy Hawaii Initiative. The program is underwritten with federal tobacco settlement funds. The Healthy Hawaii Initiative is also a partner of the Boys and Girls Club.
Mary Nakamura, Kapa’a Clubhouse director, has been working with Brian Curll, president of the Wailua-based Pu’uwai Canoe Club, to set up a program along these lines. Until now, funding for more equipment to accommodate all the kids wasn’t available.
This “bridging partnership” between the Pu’uwai Canoe Club, Boys and Girls Club, the Department of Health and Nike will offer more youth a chance to do something after school and on weekends, and hopefully, long after the NikeGO grant ends in August.
Federal research listed by Nike in support of the program shows that kids spend an average of 5 hours and 29 minutes watching television or using other media for “recreation” each day. Also, nearly half of American youth ages 12-21 don’t participate in physical activity at least three times a week.
Illinois is now the only state that requires daily physical education in schools for grades K-12.
Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at email@example.com or 245-3681 (ext. 252).