Jeremy Olson writes about children and families, and is an overscheduled father of two. His blog tackles the best and worst of parenting, families, health and love. He wants to hear from you - what's going on in your house?
Thursday's story on gains in child health and well-being included some references to The Loppet Foundation and its after-school ski clubs for urban middle-schoolers. But my article really didn't do justice to this novel approach and the way it links urban kids and minorities to a sport they might not otherwise attempt.
It was fun seeing one of their practices Wednesday and seeing kids like Kristopher Cubias Lennon, 12, take to the sport so enthusiastically. I think the guy could already beat me in a sprint.
"You want to have a race?" he yelled at his coach, Jon Miller.
"Not quite ready yet," said Miller, who was digging through a ski bag for poles for another skier.
"OK. Whenever," the kid replied, and then sped off. "I'll be skiing here alllllll day."
Photos by the Star Tribune's Richard Tsong-Ta
Through corporate and philanthropic donations, The Loppet Foundation provides ski equipment and jackets to students at Minneapolis area schools. Just as importantly, the program in its second year now provides a van ride to and from school -- removing the prohibitive barrier of transportation for some kids. In the summer, the program organizes canoe and mountain bike activities for the youth.
Given the racial disparities that exist when it comes to youth health in Minnesota, the program certainly seems on point. Ligarius Munn, a 14-year-old in 7th grade, told me the program was the only thing standing between him and zoning out watching TV at home after school. I laughed.
"No, I'm serious," he said. "I'd just go home and watch TV."