The Jacksons, Week 21: A Health and Fitness Code of Ethics

Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge

deidra jackson picture

If practice makes perfect, Jackson is well on his way to being the next Shaun White -- at some point. Credit: Deidra Jackson

I was thrilled when my son, Jackson, asked me to take him to the Oxford Skate Park.

No lazy Saturday spent parked in front of the TV; this day, he opted instead to grab his board and try to ride the ramps, rails and half-pipes.

While he's no Shaun White -- yet -- Jackson is learning how to maneuver his boards, which include a RipStik and a traditional skateboard. At 12 years old, he still enjoys going outside and being active; and to a parent who's a news junkie, that's a good report.

It's hard to ignore the dismal details of rising childhood obesity. Educators, physicians, parents, child care workers and other professionals are revamping youths' nutrition and exercise requirements; the first lady is giving the issue a prominent platform in her ambitious "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity.

So all the moments Jackson spends outside and active -- by his own initiative -- are big reassurance that he, too, is making the connection between lifestyle and good health. And it helps that we know our Healthy Families Challenge followers are checking in on us. That extra accountability, I think, helps keep us centered, and from straying too far outside the bubble.

But they're not the only ones. As most parents do, I make demands of my child. When it comes to health and nutrition, Jackson knows the following rules to be true, and to be firmly enforced by Mom:

* That I will drink water, with most all meals, and the majority of meals I eat in restaurants

* That I will have a salad and/or vegetables with most meals several times a week

* That I will eat breakfast every morning

* That I will perform some form of exercise every day

* That I will strive to "shoot the outside J" on a daily basis

That last point speaks to mental fitness more than anything else. Originally a basketball term, shooting the outside J (short for jump-shot), figuratively, means to challenge oneself and go for the harder undertaking. I encourage Jack to think of ways to accomplish this feat every day in some way.

For many of us, it's a Herculean choice, maintaining the commitment to stay on the path of good health and fitness. It's gratifying to know Jackson is getting a firm start. This is behavior I hope he internalizes and continues throughout his life.

Back at the Oxford Skate Park, I watch Jackson as he glides among the other skaters. He's probably in good company, since the special park, which opened in 2006, has gotten kudos nationally (thanks, largely, to the park being the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation), and on such skate blogs as and Skaters for Public Skateparks.

The park is reportedly 10,000 square feet, "with about half of that being the bowl," which sends skaters up and down a large dip that "empties into a huge bowl area that is about eight to nine feet deep with one section containing a wall around it that extends the height to about 11 feet," according to the SPS blog.

Imagine a big empty swimming pool with rounded edges.

Jackson didn't glide down the bowl on this visit; he sat on the edge and watched the other more experienced skaters take the plunge. At one point, he started to let himself go down the steep decline, but changed his mind.

With a bit more opportunity to build confidence, next time, I know he'll willingly launch himself and "shoot the outside J" on his board.

Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.

How is the Jackson family doing? Check in on their progress!


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.