Statistics are sad for teenage girls throughout the nation in terms of activity and fitness levels. Because the social message for many is that to be ultra thin and wispy is to be beautiful, many young women do not exercise or eat nutritiously in an effort to maintain their model-like physiques. Young women are often socialized to allow boys to excel at sports, but to themselves pursue only more dainty or refined activities, such as music or dance. This lack of team sport and pursuit of individual activities has been shown to be a hindrance in the business world, as team play is important in the real world of today’s economy.
While there are fewer opportunities for economically disadvantaged teens to engage in physical activity, and this can be a barrier toward healthy eating, here on Kaua‘i we have the great outdoors at our disposal year-round and an abundance of local fresh food all year.
Scholars increasingly report that teenage girls say they have little time to exercise and that they are “too tired.” The rate of television watching and video game playing has increased dramatically over the past few decades, so much so that well over 50 percent of teenage girls are sedentary, meaning that they do not exercise at all. A recent study indicated that teenage girls as they mature will of course gain weight, but those who don’t exercise will put on an average of 10 to 15 pounds more than those who do. As we nationally have a growing concern for the negative effects of obesity and diabetes, this is a serious and worsening problem. The childhood obesity rate in Hawai‘i as of 2008 was 22.6 percent. This is not just a measurement of overweight teens. Almost a quarter of our young people are obese.
We also have a serious issue in Hawai‘i with teenage pregnancies, which are 5.2 percent higher than the national average, and teenager-attempted suicides are at 12 percent — nearly double the national rate of 6.9 percent.
On Kaua‘i, we a woman who coaches girls ages 15 to 17 in volleyball. The team practices twice a week at the Kaumakani Gym just past Hanapepe and they have small island tournaments every couple of weeks. Their main tournament is in June this year in Anaheim, Calif. The team, called the Kiakahi, meaning “unity” or “working together,” is headed by 28-year-old Kehau Regidor.
Kehau is herself a past scholarship winner in volleyball who attended Colorado Mesa University on a scholarship and is determined to give back to her community and to continue with her love of the game. One of the best parts of coaching the girl’s team is that she knows she stands as a model for their behavior. By eating healthy and staying fit and active, she is setting an example for these young women to look great, be healthy, have fun, gain self-confidence and self-respect, learn time management, learn prioritizing and to form teamwork behaviors.
Kehau also says that it is her earnest desire to help these dedicated young women earn volleyball scholarships as a vehicle to achieve higher levels of learning. The trip to Anaheim is an eight-day trip that entails four days of volleyball and four days of fun. This is a success story about girls that we can all be proud of on our island.
You can reach Kehau at the Kaua‘i Athletic Club for more information about her winning attitude and the Kiakahi Girls Volleyball Team at email@example.com.
• Jane Riley, certified personal trainer, B.A., C.P.T, C.N.A., can be reached at 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.