Raptors Open Doors To Encourage Shaping Up
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Mike Ulmer - Raptors.com
March 4, 2011
Thousands of Toronto and area students had the chance to watch the Raptors practice on Tuesday thanks to the club’s aptly-named Shape Up program.
The students filled most of the lower bowl and gave players a deafening change from the noiseless setting of the practice court.
Through Shape Up, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment is tackling one of the pressing obstacles facing young children. According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, obesity rates among children have tripled over the last 25 years. One Canadian child in four, aged two to 17, is either obese or overweight.
From her seat in the North end of the lower bowl, Stephanie Lougheed, a Grade 7 and 8 French teacher at Danforth Gardens School noted the number of students who seem to have no physical activity in their lives.
“Some students do not exercise. They’re not experiencing exercise and it’s very important for them to learn how important play is for a healthy life.”
Teshawn Osborne, a Grade 12 student at Don Bosco School in Rexdale, said he doesn’t really understand why some kids opt out of play.
“Video games get boring and your joints start to hurt when you are just sitting there playing,” he said. “We’re young. We should be active.”
Those words, of course, are music to the ears of Dave DeFreitas, MLSE’s manager of youth hockey and basketball.
I think our players have the ability to get the message across to kids that when you keep your body healthy you can do incredible things. There’s a connection. Usually, these kids see the games through television but we can put our players and coaches in a position where the kids can access them and see that powerful message: being engaged and fit is great.
“The kids see real people, not bodies on television” said Antonietta Granata of St. Matthew School in Toronto. “They are actual human beings and for the children to see they make mistakes and recover and are actually doing the things they have seen only on television, that matters.”
Cassandra Ewan is a Grade 7 at St. Andrew in Etobicoke. She plays volleyball, basketball and soccer, runs cross country and competes in the 100 and 200 meters in track.
Sports, she said, opens doors not just between students from the same schools but between students from different schools.
“I feel we can represent our school in a different way,” she said. “We can be nice to everybody instead of fighting.”
Her friend Theresa Ampon, a volleyball, basketball and soccer player as well as a track athlete said in her family there was no thoughts given to sitting anything out. Theresa’s story speaks to the positive impact members of a family can have on each other.
“I have five sisters and they were all very active I sports. They would have told me I had to do something,” she said.
“I think there are so many things to do now,” said Jay Triano who remembers when video games meant Pong.
“Kids can play video games go on the internet or watch television. We want to encourage kids to be in shape, to get in shape for a healthy life.”
“When I was young I ran track, I played tennis and soccer as well as basketball. For a couple of years I took judo,” said Raptors point guard Jose Calderon.
“It doesn’t matter hold old you are. Getting away, exercising, you come back feeling like a different person. When I am home in Spain through the summer I bike, 30 or 40 km two or three times a week. It feels great.”