Times Remembered – Outdoor Deficits

Mary Jean Yon,

Life is at its best when we continue to learn new things. One of my recent discoveries is the term “NDD” which stands for Nature Deficit Disorder. I heard this in a legislative committee meeting recently and promptly asked my running buddy Bill Hunter for an explanation since it was one of his agency appointees that used the term. Bill wasted no time in introducing me to a book titled “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv that focuses on the idea of saving children from such a deficiency of all things outdoor. It’s a great book that clearly makes the case for getting kids off the couch and away from indoor distractions. One of the first quotes you come across when you open the book is from a fourth grader in San Diego, California explaining that he likes to plays indoors best because “that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”

What I liked about the book was the instant confirmation I received that Gulf Winds is clearly on the right track with all of our programs that focus on youth running outdoors. Case in point: remember the school grants program we kicked off last fall to promote running clubs in area schools? The goal of this grant program is to encourage children to be physically active through the sport of running. The program, guided by Mae Cleveland, has had great success in growing the ranks of school running programs from one in 2007 to eight in just the first half of 2008! Cornerstone Learning Center was our flagship grantee in an effort to keep kids active, healthy and outdoors. The new participants are: Springwood Elementary, Chaires Elementary, Hawks Rise Elementary, Killearn Lakes Elementary, Roberts Elementary, Gretchen Everhart and Buck Lake Elementary.

Couple this with the fact that elementary schools in Florida are once again requiring 30 minutes of physical education per day for students and we might just be on the way of overcoming NDD in today’s youth! And let us not forget the Summer Track series that Gulf Winds provides in partnership with the City of Tallahassee. Those weekly events help keep the momentum going once school ends for the summer break. Anything we can do to combat a sedentary lifestyle for children will go a long way towards preventing childhood obesity and other health problems.

This month brings continued opportunities to get together. We’re coming off a busy four months that featured six club races, all of which had a great turnout and in some cases smashed attendance numbers from previous years. It’s great to see so many people coming out to run and I marvel at all the new faces found at these events. I continue to wonder how many of these folks are members of Gulf Winds. Our membership chair, Peg Griffin, reports that we have 883 members in the club and that roughly 22 % of these people are members that have joined this year. Some of these new members come to us from the Springtime Training Group and other beginning runner classes and we welcome them with open arms. There’s simply nothing better than watching someone who is new to running and flush with the excitement of achieving personal records and smashing all sorts of barriers along the way!

To celebrate these new enthusiasts and to honor those who continue to persevere in our favorite sport, we will be hosting a “Member Appreciation Social” on May 15 at Po’ Boys Creole Cafe at 1425 Village Square Boulevard. The fun starts at 6:00 p.m. and features an opportunity to mix and mingle while enjoying some good food and beverages. So bring your favorite running story and join us for a fun night out. Another opportunity to gather comes on May 29 when the GWTC Lecture Series hosts “Movie Night” at Premier Health & Fitness. Showing that night will be the movie “Fire on the Track” about perennial favorite Steve Prefontaine followed by a 10 minute feature film of our own local hero, Tim Simpkins. Look for details and put this date on your calendar too!