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Defying Childhood Obesity Statistics

December 16, 2013, 10:00 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Defying Childhood Obesity Statistics
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Are kids as healthy as they were just a few decades ago? A recent study says no.

According to the American Heart Association, kids today aren't as physically fit as their parents were at the same age.

It's not everyday you hear about a kid choosing to work instead of play in his off time. But Grant Behrend is one motivated boy.

"He was saying that he wants some extra help with shots and maybe his jump shot. And so, I work out with a trainer and I thought why not," Grant's mom Kristi Behrend said.

Grant is ten years old and involved with sports like basketball, baseball and football. When he decided he wanted to be better at his favorite sports, Grant's parents agreed to let him get weekly training from professionals at the Avera Fitness Center.

"We just really work on the shooting and dribbling. How I can jump up and shoot the basket," Grant said. 

Since he began training, Grant says he's gotten a lot of compliments from his friends. And his mom says his confidence is really growing.

"I've noticed that my shot is getting better. I can really go down the court faster," Grant said.

"It's not about the number of buckets that he makes to me. It's about how he feels about it. If he thinks he had a great game, that's all that matters to me," Kristi said. 

Grant is an exception in today's world of rising childhood obesity rates. One in three kids in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese.

The Sioux Falls School District decided they didn't want area kids to fit into these kinds of stats. So, in 2011 the district changed up their curriculum.

"P.E. has changed quite a bit, from a skill-based activity as far as basketball, volleyball, softball, those type of activities. Much more towards fitness based," P.E. teacher Andy DuBois said. 

Andy DuBois has been a P.E. instructor at Whittier Middle School for 11 years. He says using different fitness stations, rather than old-school games is helping kids who wouldn't normally participate, still get a good workout.

"We see kids that maybe are less likely to be involved in sports and these are some skills they can do and they don't have to be athletes. And athletes isn't the goal anymore. Fitness is the goal now," DuBois said. 

"I like doing circuits because you do a variety of things. But I like games too I guess," 13-year-old Ashley Moen said.

Moen says there are a lot of things kids can do to stay fit, even outside of school.

"If you have nothing to do, just, like, go outside and play basketball or something," Moen said. 

DuBois believes attitudes like Ashley's and Grant's are no accident.

"Parents are the ones, that, they're the true role models to their kids. They have to encourage their kids to get off the couches, limit the electronic media as much as they can and go out and play with their kids. And they have to get off the couches themselves too," DuBois said. 

"We try really hard at our house to just set the example. He sees me out and about or more active or I'm here three times a week. Or I workout with a trainer. I think just to set the example," Kristi said. 

These examples are lessons that kids like Grant and Ashley will hopefully keep with them the rest of their lives.

"I just want him to be happy. I mean, I just want him to be the best that he can be. I want him to push himself. I do, I want him to be the best that he can be," Kristi said.

Students in the Sioux Falls School District have P.E. class 40 minutes every other day.

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