I have a confession to make. One of the most interesting effects of starting an Operation Pull Your Own Weight childhood obesity prevention project at an early age (K, 1, 2) is the fact that there is very little in the way of physical benefit for naturally athletic kids who are already genetically (or socially, psychologically, economically, etc.) predisposed to being strong, light, and well coordinated.
In contrast, kids who'd normally be left behind because they're genetically (or socially, psychologically, economically, etc.) predisposed to picking up excess weight will avoid being left behind because they'll immunize themselves against obesity for life by learning and maintaining the ability to do pull ups. The confidence boost that results from this experience alone is beyond calculation. But there's more. Check it out.
Nothing Succeeds Like Success
When all kids learn at an early age that THEY CAN tackle a difficult task like learning to do pull ups (Oh yes I can), in front of their peers, and when they succeed, week after week, month after month, every time they touch the bar, they learn to expect success instead of failure. Since nothing succeeds like success, those expectations spill over into the way they approach things like reading, writing, and arithmetic, so their academic performance benefits as well.
Embedded In a Kid's Psychological DNA
It also influences the way these kids approach social relationships and it reduces the odds of there ever being a class bully (a kid dictator). Kids learn patience, planning, persistence, and mutual respect, and those characteristics color the way they interact with the world around them.
Meanwhile, the gap between those kids who are naturally at the top of the pecking order and those who are at the bottom is significantly reduced, and the playing field is systematically leveled by raising the standards for one segment of kids, not by lowering them for another. And if all this begins at a very young age when experiences tend to become imbedded into kid's psychological DNA's, they'll carry over into, and last for the rest of their lives.
Disruptive Behavior Will Diminish
With the playing field leveled and the pecking order gap being systematically reduced, the negative experiences that cause many kids to feel frustrated, ashamed, angry, cynical, ostracized, embarrassed, humiliated, and alienated will also be significantly reduced. And at this point the face saving, defensive behaviors that disrupt so many classrooms diminish simultaneously.
As Performances Improve
With disruptive behaviors minimized and student's confidence levels enhanced, focus as well as academic performance levels will naturally improve, and the democratizing chemistry resulting from OPYOW being introduced at an early age will make school, the community, and the world a more democratic place in which to live, work, and play.
Saluting the Flag of Democracy
Although OPYOW's focus is on childhood obesity prevention, that doesn't mean the ripple effects of solving one very big problem won't influence the lives of participants in an infinite number of ways. And by making school, the community, and the world a better place, those natural athletes and who are already predisposed to being strong, light, and well coordinated will indirectly benefit from the democratizing effects of OPYOW. They'll just be a little less privileged than they would have been otherwise. And for those of us who salute the flag of democracy, that's a move in the right direction.