Recreation Makes a Difference in War-torn Bethlehem

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Paidia is using the GYMTRIX™ DVDs to educate their staff so that they can use the activities with the children. The organization began using the program with preschool children, some of which are developmentally disabled. Now it is expanding to work with babies and toddlers.

The problems are the same, from day care facilities in Chicago to schools in Bethlehem. How do you provide a curriculum that teaches children how to be physically active and lays the foundation for a healthy adult life? More importantly, how do you accomplish that in a war-torn area?

Paidia International Development is a nonprofit that is at work in the Bethlehem community. Their Impact Program works with youth to teach non-violence, leadership and environmental care. The Stepping Stones Program is helping the local developmentally delayed population develop their motor and cognitive skills. Through both of these programs, as well as others, Paidia is providing the Bethlehem area with much needed education and recreation that is so lacking in this historic area.    

A representative of Paidia, Erich Strehl said "Recreation is not a priority in a war-torn area, food and shelter are. That is why there is a lack of programming. However, we know that children need to build skills; eye-hand coordination, motor skills, agility and so on." Strehl connected with Doreen Bolhuis, the creator of GYMTRIX™ for a solution.

Bolhuis, a former physical education teacher and owner of a recreation and sport facility, developed GYMTRIX™ to help combat the growing problem of obesity.

"When I developed the curriculum I was really focused on the U.S., but the issues are the same the world over. Children are not taught the physical skills that they need to grow into healthy adults. In addition, children who do not have physical activity are at risk for depression, lower cognitive function, low self esteem and are often socially isolated," said Bolhuis.

Paidia is using the GYMTRIX™ DVDs to educate their staff so that they can use the activities with the children. The organization began using the program with preschool children, some of which are developmentally disabled. Now it is expanding to work with babies and toddlers. Strehl said, "A lot of the programs we looked at provided a weekend or one time training. This program provided a complete curriculum. It is comprehensive and has longevity. When we provide recreation and education, we improve our community."

Here in the U.S., the GYMTRIX™ DVD curriculum was launched at the National Association for the Education of the Young Child in September 2007. The program is the result of over 20 years of experience with over 80,000 children in the West Michigan area in Bolhuis's sport and recreational facility.

At the conference, attendees from India, Ecuador, and Taiwan, along with those from Grand Rapids, Chicago, and New Orleans, adopted the program to help increase physical activity in the day care and school setting.

Today, many teachers are struggling with physical education curriculums for children. This is especially critical since the National Association for Sport and Physical Education recently released new physical activity guidelines. These guidelines include the amount of physical activity that children need during the school day. For the first time there are guidelines for babies and toddlers. Bolhuis's GYMTRIX™ meets and exceeds these guidelines.

GYMTRIX is a trademark of FitSmart Productions, LLC. For more information please visit http://www.gymtrix.net. Or find more information at http://www.howtopreventchildhoodobesity.com.

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Kate Brillowsky
GYMTRIX
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