“Making Music Fit For Kids!” is Amy Otey’s motto when she performs around the country as Miss Amy to encourage kids to get active and live healthy lifestyles. Miss Amy’s music show is designed to get kids up and moving and discover their athletic identities. She practices what she preaches, too —the former gymnast can still do the splits!
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
My focus on children’s health and wellness became more intense in 1996 with the premature birth of my son, who spent the first three months of his life in the Neonatal ICU. When he was able to come home I sought out opportunities for us to connect with other parents and children. I found myself being called to perform and create music as an entertainer for children. Simultaneously, I was continuing my training and work as a fitness professional. While experiencing developmental milestones with my son and other children in these settings, I also saw the connection of using music and movement to combat the rising obesity epidemic. This led me to develop my interactive musical Fitness Rock & Roll program which has been presented to thousands of children at schools, libraries, festivals and venues, including the Kimmel Center and the 2010 White House Egg Roll.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
I actively perform my Fitness Rock & Roll program to help children claim their athletic identities by practicing foundational fitness like balance, endurance and strength within a musical interactive experiential framework. As a proud supporter ofthe President's Challenge Program and President’s Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), I continue my work as an advocate by encouraging children and parents to complete the President’s Active Lifestyle Award. I’m also continuing to develop awareness though the release of my new book and online resources about the subject, as well as through being a health and wellness presenter for education conferences.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
Being recognized as a Grammy Nominee for Fitness Rock & Roll as Best Children’s Album (54th season) was a highlight and brought the importance of the musical/fitness connection to the mainstream. Now, with the release of my new book, Keep Kids Fit! Classroom Activity Breaks, which hasreceived endorsements by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Yale University Prevention Research Center, I am providing guidance to elementary classroom teachers to bring active fitness breaks into their daily routines. Choreographed, easy-to-follow movements, along with a free download of my Grammy Nominated music and 114 cross-connection Lesson Plans, gives teachers a great way to integrate the physical and neurological benefits of exercise into the classroom. Getting kids more active during the school day is a positive strategy for helping reduce childhood obesity, as suggested through the updated American Physical Activity Guidelines in 2013 and the Wellness Impact Report of 2013. My hope is that all children will have more opportunities to move during the school day through Classroom Activity Breaks. This will enhance not only their health and well-being, but contribute to their academic success as well.
Who is your role model in your work?
Jack LaLanne and Jillian Michaels are wonderful examples of leaders in fitness motivation who have made positive differences in people’s lives and who I admire. In the music industry Mick Jagger continues to move energetically on stage, and Sting leads a healthful life-style though yoga practice and good food.
What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up? Did you play sports?
My favorite healthy snack growing up was “Bumps on a Log” or celery with peanut butter and raisins. Yum! I played volleyball in middle school and also enjoyed gymnastics. Yes, I still eat Bumps on a Log and can still do the splits.
Each week, our own Zach Brooks speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Zach’s profile and contact him.