Movin’ Minds promotes academic and physical health

July 5, 2011

by Aimee Katz

About 100 middle-school students will participate in Movin' Minds, a program organized by Precollege OPTIONS in Education Outreach and Partnerships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Movin' Minds, which runs from July 18-22, allows students to exercise their bodies and minds.

Movin' Minds is a partnership between Education Outreach and Partnership in the School of Education and Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton. Hamilton was originally involved with College for Kids giving presentations to groups. She was approached four years ago, however, to start another camp with the university.

"[Movin' Minds] is an initiative to get kids healthy and fit. It's about both [fitness and academics], incorporating a balance in kids' lives," Hamilton says. "Academics come first, but your body should also come first. Both should be tied together."

Each morning, students meet on the Kohl Center lawn where Hamilton leads them in physical exercises. Eventually, they make their way to Bascom Hill to do relay races. Hamilton also engages them in stretching, running, and group games.

Patricia Brooks, outreach specialist in the School of Education, notes that the overall goal of Movin' Minds is to give students the opportunity to build healthy bodies and minds while participating in two academic courses.

"The most popular course this year is Crime Scene Investigation, although Architecture, Video Production, Digital Photography, and other technology courses are always popular," says Brooks.

Students attend a morning class after exercising, and then have a large group lunch with presentations by Hamilton and others on various topics such as motivation, leadership, nutrition, and leading a healthy lifestyle.

The program concludes with a second afternoon class. Overall, Movin' Minds is an opportunity for students to explore their interests with their peers and build on their critical thinking skills and discover new career opportunities

Hamilton hopes that all participants leave Movin' Minds with self-confidence and a newfound respect for others.

"Movin' Minds is an inspiring, active, fun program that teaches students about nutrition, physical exercise, and leadership skills," says Brooks. "Diabetes and obesity are two concerns for today's youth. The message of 'healthy bodies, healthy minds' is much needed in our community."

Hamilton agrees. Part of her motivation for starting Movin' Minds was to give kids an avenue to fit exercise into their lives. She stresses that childhood obesity is become more prevalent in society and it has to stop.

"When we were young kids we didn't have to make fitness a point, but today things have changed," she says.

Movin' Minds is held from July 18-22, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $475 for rising sixth- through ninth-grade students.