By: Marilyn Reed
Passing down family traditions just happens whether we mean for it to or not. Good or bad, negative or positive, rituals with the ones we love make life special and our families unique. Whether its sharing a meal or gathering around the Christmas tree at your favorite auntie’s house, family traditions make us who we are.
In our community, many of our traditions are centered around food and a lack of physical activity. Unfortunately, this ritual has a direct correlation to many illnesses that plague minority women and children, namely obesity and coronary vascular disease.
I have read the statistics and so have you. It is a well-documented fact that Mississippi is the fattest state in the nation. According to USA Today
, more than 16% of American children ages 10 to 17 years are not just overweight, they are obese. One-fifth of Mississippi’s children are obese. Sadly, black and brown children are twice as likely as white children to be overweight or obese.
Fast food, television, video games and a lack of physical education are all blamed for the expanding girths of our children. But, at the end of the day, we can talk about it or be about it. We can discuss the causes of childhood obesity or we can create solutions.
During Easter weekend, I blazed a new trail with my family and did a virtual 5K race with my six-year-old cousin, Brooklynn. An intelligent, brown beauty, my little cousin is heavy for her age. With a full understanding of what it feels like to be called a “butterball” and “pleasingly plumb” as a child, I decided to help her create wellness traditions early and teach her to take care of her physical self. After all, the Bible says that if we train our children in the way that they should go, they will not depart from it.
Our theme for the entire weekend was “Crucifying Obesity-Resurrecting Health
”. On Good Friday, we laced up our running shoes, rocked our Black Girls Run gear and ate up over three miles of pavement. As we ran down the main thoroughfare in Grenada, Mississippi, I chuckled as Brooklynn fully embraced the claps and cheers of the bystanders. The louder they cheered, the faster she ran. To say that she enjoyed herself is an understatement. By the end of our route, Brooklynn was out-running me. But, she was also out-running diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity---all maladies that she is pre-disposed to inherit if she does not “move something”.
After the race, we dined on turkey hot dogs, baked chips, fruit cups, and bottled water. Brooklynn’s expression of joy when she received her race medal, certificate and SWAG bag will remain etched in my mind for a very long time. I had a God moment for I knew that I had done good.
On Resurrection Sunday, Brooklynn sported her pearls, her gloves AND her race medal when she said her speech. As Brooklynn shouted, “He Lives…He Lives.” I smiled to myself knowing that she too will live
for a long, long time if she keeps up her new tradition. Hopefully, her love for the pavement will be long lasting, and that she too will one day pass it on.
Marilyn Reed, is a native of Grenada, Mississippi, but now resides in Jackson, Mississippi. A member of BGR! Jackson, Miss., she enjoys spending time with her family, her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sisters, traveling and reading. Little BGR Brooklynn has races scheduled through the summer.
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