First person: An Austin, TX mom taps community resources to keep her kids active

For adults and children, moving more and being active are essential to health. But for kids, who need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, making the switch from hours on the couch to time outdoors can be tough.

Austin, TX mom Emilia has four children. Her oldest son Sergio has always been heavy. Emilia started taking small steps to help him slim down to a healthier weight. She looked for ways to get him moving more and taught him to eat smaller portions. One of the biggest challenges Emilia faced was finding a way to get Sergio excited about physical activity. El Buen Samaritano, a community-based program dedicated to supporting Latino and other local families through high-quality and affordable health-care, education and financial security services, made the difference.

Emilia’s story: Tapping into a community resource

I had to have some help to keep Sergio busy and active. I found the Born to Run program at El Buen Samaritano in Austin, and he started running with his friends there every day during the week.

Before we started coming to El Buen and being part of Born to Run, we would just eat and be at home. We weren’t very active. Sergio would also complain that his skinnier, healthier friends could run faster and play soccer better. He got frustrated. Something needed to change.

At first it was a struggle. I started by saying I was going so I thought the kids should come with me. It took a lot of convincing at first. I had to sit Sergio down and tell him that just sitting, eating and watching TV wasn’t good for him.

He always thought he would have a hard time running and playing sports. But after he got involved with the programs at El Buen and started running regularly, he took off. I remember the day he started to love Born to Run; he was so happy that day. He was thrilled when he discovered running. I was so thankful that he had finally found an activity he was interested in.

He started playing soccer and being part of other activities that he never thought he’d be able to do. He also saw other results. His clothes started fitting differently. He wanted to be involved in more and more things. Now he’s the one who says, ‘Let’s go!’ He’s the one taking the initiative. And, we’ve become much more active overall as a family.

He was thrilled when he discovered running. I was so thankful that he had finally found an activity he was interested in.

Emilia’s tips for increasing children’s physical activity

  • Look for community programs that will involve everyone in the family.
  • Start slowly.  When your kids are more active, they’ll see the benefits themselves and want to exercise more. You won’t have to push them.
  • Be a good example; get active yourself.

Hear more of Emilia’s story.

To read more about Emilia and other families who’ve adopted healthy habits to combat childhood obesity in their own homes visit, and order or download your free copies of A Year of Being Well: Messages from Families on Living Healthier Lives.