By Bernice Elizabeth Green
Last Saturday, families, individuals and residents of all ages and walks of life came out to the Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School (B-CAM H.S.) field for an exhilarating morning and afternoon of fitness and fun in celebration of the Summer Olympic Games.
YMCA executive director Dordy Jourdain, Councilwoman Letitia James, and Let’s Move! Brooklyn founder Lockie Andrews set the pace, and were cheerleaders for a day at the pep rally in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call for families across the country to cheer Team USA by going outdoors and getting physical in their own communities.
The Let’s Move! Brooklyn participants had even more to cheer about that morning; their teen neighbor swimmer Lia Neal was announced as one of the Olympia victors in the 4X100 relay, and she was among the U.S. delegation the First Lady led to the 2012 games in London, earlier.
The day was a festival of sports, showcasing activities available to the public at the YMCA. Guided by expert athletes, a score of young people participated in track, soccer, relay races, hula-hoop demonstrations, competitions and more.
“I totally support Let’s Move! Brooklyn, and anything positive that gets kids moving and gives them a healthy start and preparation for opportunities in life. At the Y, we turn no one away. We have scholarships and other programs,” said Mr. Jourdain, as he turned to the councilwoman, and added, “Thanks for opening this field, and making a dream a reality. I’m running and having fun just seeing young people active and engaged”
Ms. Andrews said, “Be fit, run, be active so you can do well in school; one of you might find the cure for cancer.” She also encouraged young people and families to “believe in the dreams, but do the hard work, be positive and remember days like today when families and individuals came together for Let’s Move.”
Councilwoman James, a former Ft. Hamilton H.S. track and field star, rode her three-speed bike to the event where she stayed from beginning to end. She informed participants of some “staggering” Kings County statistics. “59% of adults are overweight or obese and childhood obesity is troublesome because it lays the groundwork for later in life. Heart diseases are epidemic. I’m urging everyone to take a critical role in this effort to get our kids moving and get moving on getting implementing more sports programs in our schools and after school centers. It’s critical.”
Principal James O’Brien credits James and Borough President Marty Markowitz for transforming “a concrete field of glass, and blacktop into a beautiful field of green Astroturf, pleasant to the eyes, easier on young athletes’ bodies. “Our students navigated broken glass chards for athletic practice sessions,” he told us. “It was 50 years of barren. Now it’s a state-of-the-art, village-friendly green oasis.”
Chelsea White, a program facilitator for the event, is a life-long dancer, and her presence that day, underscored the kinds of opportunities that can open up in the field of exercise. Ms. White has a Masters in health policy and administration from Penn State, and plans to begin work on her PHD in two years.
“Getting young people moving and exercising,” she said, “means the entire community should be involved in moving and exercising. The First Lady’s mission is to deliver the message to young people to get moving as soon as possible so they can have a headstart living healthy lives and lifestyles.
Joining the YMCA in inspiring the movers to do, and doers to move, were members of B-CAM’s own high-spirited and physically fit cheerleading squad, including Dina Joseph, the captain, Danielle Davis and Melisa Smith with team manager Rayanna Lathan, all 16, and all keeping their grades above average to stay in play.
“I want our youth to stay active and get fit, and, yes, that means I have to do some work on myself, too,” the councilwoman told reporters, as she kept the Brooklyn Team Spirit up and alive: “Are you ready to run? Are you ready to jump?
“This is your day, your field,” she shouted. “Run, jump, make noise and be kids!”