Physical Therapy students put initiative into “Kid’s Initiative”

(Left to right): Meena Krishnan (SHP ’14), Jemma Rose (SHP ’14), Roseann Luna, (SHP ’14), Vicki Kowalewski (SHP ’15), Jonathan Nix (SHP ’14,) Niva Austin, Rebecca Martel and Abolaji Ogundele (all SHP ’15).

The prospect of early-morning exercise with four dozen (or so) extremely active 3rd-, 4th– and 5th-graders might sound a bit off-putting to some. But if you’re a member of Kid’s Initiative, you’re not just into the mayhem: you’re aiding and abetting it.

As conceived in 2011 by Travis Urban (SHP ’13), Kid’s Initiative would plant two seeds of thought with children attending North High Mount Elementary, the Title 1 school neighboring UNTHSC’s campus: physical fitness as a key element of health, and awareness of UNT Health Science Center as a solution for healthier communities.

"Other than seeing a doctor or nurse, many kids in this demographic don’t know much about the health care profession," says Urban, who understands what he calls "both side of the tracks." Adding that "physical therapy should be at the forefront of the fight against obesity," he notes that "nobody’s better at teaching safe movement than a physical therapist."

"We have fun with the kids and it’s contagious," enthuses Roseann Luna, (SHP ’14). Meena Krishnan (SHP ’14) agrees, adding that "they’re really well behaved and look forward to every Tuesday, which charges all of us up, too."

North High Mount Elementary’s Principal Todd Koppes was onboard with the Kid’s Initiative early on, but insisted that the School of Health Professions students "honor any commitment you make to these kids." Urban explains: "If we say we’re going to be there, then we must be there. Some of the kids come from broken homes and breaking their trust even once could lose them for good."

Wendy Walling, High Mount’s PE teacher, praises the Kid’s Initiative volunteers. "We have been so grateful for all their help not only with morning exercise but with our special events such as Field Day, Family Fitness Night and fund raising for our school," she says. "The students are enthusiastic, and it’s great to have the community involvement. We hope that our collaboration continues for years and that, together, we can put an end to issues like childhood diabetes."

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