Martin Luther King Elementary Physical Education Teacher
Hard work and dedication proves to be the magic components to a successful after school program. Ms. Dowdell and her support staff understand these concepts all too well. “Staying late after school, especially when you have your own family is difficult. It is a huge commitment and having your whole heart into it is very important.”
“When I started the MLK girls after school running club, my intentions were to empower girls and let them know that they can take charge of their own fitness,” Ms. Dowdell said. With the help of four other MLK staff members; Sholanda Brewer, Elizabeth Smith, Foluke “O”, and Melanie Simms, the running club has grown to a team of 30 girls ranging from the 1st grade to the 6th grade, with numbers for participation still growing. The team plans on running several 5ks, including the Red Bud Classic in April. The team practices twice a week and include a wide range of fitness levels.
MLK is really trying to be a leader in educating youth about healthy choices and, more importantly, healthy living. Ms. Dowdell no longer offers sugar sweetened drinks and snacks and instead she only serves fresh fruit and vegetables and water to the girls after each practice. The running club not only exposes children to more opportunity for physical activity, but the addition of healthier snacks allows the children to be exposed to all types of produce that they may not have the opportunity to try. Allowing the children to try different things while they are young helps them to have more options when they are asking for snacks at the store with their parents.
Ms. Dowell expressed, “knowledge is power and making sure our children are properly educated about healthy choices ensures our future. So when I first learned of the 5-2-1-0 initiative, I told myself we have been doing this for a while now and never knew that it had a name. I have always believed that lack of exercise and poor eating habits were the major contributor s to childhood obesity in Oklahoma; that is why being a part of this movement is so important to me and the staff.”
“Leading by example is the driving force behind the many programs that I have started over the years. Showing the children how making good choices can improve not only their lives but the lives of their families at home. Asking their parents for healthy snacks and dinners ultimately helps everyone. If we can just reach one child it will begin to spread throughout a community. Take the Pledge in making Oklahoma’s children healthier.”