When Jennifer Lynn Goyne found out her daughter’s school lacked a physical education program, she stepped up to get the students in shape. Now Goyne serves as the vice chair of the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health in Columbia, Mo, helping youngsters across the city lead healthier lives.
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
When my daughter started school, I noticed her school had no formal physical education program. This inspired me to volunteer to teach the students in grades K-5 proper form and breathing for distance running, and to enjoy running. This also inspired me to start a wellness council at my daughter’s school to introduce healthy fruits and vegetables to the students.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
For the past three years, I have coordinated the physical fitness and wellness effort with the support of school administrators and teachers at a local elementary school. Every week during the 2010 to 2013 school years, children were encouraged to run a mile. Some student runners also participated in a children’s marathon program associated with the Go! St. Louis Marathon. For these efforts, I was co-awarded the Mayor’s Annual Fitness Award in 2010.
Two years later, I joined the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, where I currently serve as vice-chair. When the council was discussing ideas for new community-wide events, I presented an idea regarding a school-year long running event for children in Columbia, which all council members supported. Called the COMO KIDS Challenge, the program combines running, reading and volunteerism to engage participants in physical fitness that combats obesity, improves education and develops community ties.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
Children that I have engaged in running remain excited about running and they continue running after moving on other schools. On several occasions I have encountered former students who are excited to tell me about how they now run with their parents or have joined track clubs.
Who is your role model in your work?
Dana Hughes, a friend and former coach for Team in Training, is my role model. I first met Dana in 2009 when I joined the Team in Training organization to raise money for research seeking a cure for leukemia. Dana’s energy, enthusiasm and passion for running and improving community health was empowering, and it encouraged me to pass along my passion for running to a new generation.
What game or sport did you play growing up?
Tag was my favorite game when I was growing up in Philadelphia. I remember my parents letting my siblings and me run from block to block playing tag. I also enjoyed walking through the city with my family to go to places like the movies, grocery store and to my grandparents’ house. My own family continues this tradition by walking through our neighborhood and on walking and running trails in Columbia.
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