Get (Physically) Active at Your Library for Teen Read Week!

Still looking for Teen Read Week ideas? Physical activity is only one way to active @ your library, and if you’re looking for program ideas, I found MetLife Foundation/ Libraries for the Future project Get Real, Get Fit! to be a great resource. Thanks to library school student Debora Duerksen (who sent me an email inquiring why ALA didn’t have more information about the grant, thus planting the idea for this post) and to Hali Brindel and Marilyn Ratner at LFF for providing data.

Targeted at teens and their parents, Get Real, Get Fit! was announced at the end of 2004, awarded in 2005 and implemented at 41 libraries. The challenge: create an intergenerational dialogue on the benefits of fitness and healthy eating through four or more programs. The program is also an opportunity for partnerships with community organizations, and for marketing the library to a wider audience. Latest data from the Center for Disease Control’s study Prevalance of Overweight Children and Adolescents: United States, 2003-2004 reports that 17% of adolescents age 12-19 are overweight, and several physicians have predicted that today’s adolescents will be the first generation to have lowered life expectancy than their parents, due to poor nutrition and unhealthy, inactive lifestyles.

Based on the tremendous success of the program, LFF will be offering Fit for
Life–also funded by MetLife, this year. Fit for Life, the next phase of the program, focuses on urban library systems. While teens will again be the target audience, Fit for Life libraries will use this population to access the entire family. Twelve systems will receive grants of $5,000 to $20,000; winners will be announced in early October. Library systems will partner with LFF in helping stimulate similar programming throughout the library community on the state, regional and national levels.

You can replicate these model programs in your library’s offerings. Three of the participants won a NCLIS Health Information Awards in 2006.

One key component of Get Real, Get Fit! was the incorporation of the health-related episode of In the Mix, the award-winning topical TV series for teens on PBS. “Fit for Life… Eat Smart and Exercise” is available from PBS for $69.95 and includes a discussion guide and public performance license. During the grant, “Fit for Life” was used as a springboard for and intergenerational discussion about teen lifestyle issues and strategies for forming healthy habits.

Jeanne Farnworth, at the Portneuf District Library, Chubbuck (ID), held a showing of Napolean Dynamite, precluded by a rousing game of kick ball. Over 50 teens attended and stayed to watch the show. “I’m also really conscious of what I serve for snacks at teen events,” says Jeanne. “They eat the healthy stuff just as quickly as the junk food.” The Napolean Dynomite event was just an offshoot of the Get Real, Get Fit project. Jeanne reports that four Get Real, Get Fit events were held, featuring a 1 mile fitness walk, fitness stations, sports samplers and information stations. Many community businesses partnered with the library to provide the events. Each teen that participated got a free pedometer, t-shirt, dental health kit, water bottle and more. Jeanne says “We are planning another fitness event during Teen Read Week- it will be Get Active, Get Healthy @ the Portneuf District Library (featuring similar stations, info booths and a power walk -weather permitting). During that week, are also doing a Get Active Outside w/Frisbee golf,Get Active w/Art event, Get Active w/Games and Get Active w/CSI at the Portnef District Library.”

Sarah Kaufman at Tempe (AZ) Public Library offered four Sunday afternoons health festivals featuring 14-18 booths that offered fitness information, activities and games. Prizes including pedometers, jump ropes and exercise equipment and Dance, Dance Revolution. Physical activities included fitness drills, hula-hoop, hackey sack, situp/pushup contests, and exercising games with yoga and Pilates.

Joyce Pernicone at the North Miami (FL) Public Library reports that “Staying Fit With the Miami Heat Dancers” demonstrated routines while “Hip Hop Aerobics” explained about healthy heart exercises.

Bill Landau at the East Flagstaff (AZ) Community Library, says “Our hiking club and discussion group went very well… Some of the trails we visited were just steps from our door and many of the participants had lived her for years and didn’t even know those trails were there…We drew new people to our library who weren’t even aware there was a Branch library.” A hiking program at Olive Hill (KY) Public Library resulted in computer donations! A park naturalist at Carter Caves State Resort Park led a hike and cave tour; librarian Vickie Rose reports that fitness computer programs will be implemented at both the library and Carter Caves State Park so citizens can assess and monitor fitness goals from either location. Bill says that “the best thing that came from the whole Get Real, Get Fit grant was a core group of teens that have become the Teen Council. Older teens leave and younger teens move in, but it really helped establish this group for us. We had lots of adults who were really jealous of the teen hikes and have asked that we do some for adults who don’t have teens. So we will be scheduling some of these events in the near future.”

Other program ideas from Get Real, Get Fit!:

* Cooking and fitness demonstrations
* Dance, Dance Revolution
* Discussions with health and fitness experts

* Exercise sessions led by fitness experts
* Health festivals
* Hikes
* Hip hop dancing
* Information sessions
* Kick boxing

* Nature walks
* Salsa dancing
* Yoga

If the idea of getting active by playing video games intrigues you, check out the summer issue of YALS, featuring an article by myself and Alissa Lauzon on Dance Dance Revoution at the library.

The YALSA YALSA Teen Read Week web site has lots of other ideas for Getting Physical @ the Library –check it out!

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Beth Gallaway

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer.

One thought on “Get (Physically) Active at Your Library for Teen Read Week!”

  1. Beth:

    In follow-up to my original e-mail to you back in the fall of 2005: I’ve subsequently done for my class in “Planning and delivering public library services to YAs” a proposal for a young adult/family event to be used with a GRGF grant. It’s based on a profile I did of a branch of the NYPL. I’d be happy to share it with you, with some understanding for the fact that it was done as a class assignment, not as a “real-world” document.

    Best regards and thanks for your help,
    Debora

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