Monday, April 20, 2009

Schools and gym front lines in the war of the waist line

by Alan Wechsler, staff writer

ALBANY — At the Montessori Magnet School, gym class has taken a strange turn.
At one end of the gym, students bounce foam balls on a tennis racket. On the other, kids try to keep a hula hoop spinning for 20 seconds. Other youths are balancing on a two-by-four, jumping rope or practicing throwing and catching a rubber ball.

Kiyonna Burden, a fourth-grader, has a big smile on her face. She has just passed the 60-second foam ball test — and is well on her way to getting a certificate for completing the PE Central Challenge.

Asked if she knew the purpose of it all, she looks puzzled for a moment. And then she remembers:
“Fitness,” she says, “gives you good health.”

The battle for the future of fitness is being fought in gym classes such as these. Amid rising concerns about childhood obesity and the effects of too much TV or video games, coaches and health teachers are asking: What can we do to get kids to exercise more?

Locally, you’ll find teachers giving out pedometers for walking contests. Physical education teachers are preaching the importance of nutrition, while at the same time looking for new ways — such as yoga or dance — to get children to enjoy exercise.

And the programs don’t stop at the end of the school day. Local YMCAs also are getting into he game, by deploying staff to try new programs meant to head off a life of lethargy before it begins. One local Y, for instance, even takes families to tour local supermarkets, discussing nutrition at the front lines of the war on obesity.

Experts are even looking toward the enemy — video games themselves — to encourage exercise in a digital age. New technology lets kids work out in real time while holding Wii-type devices that translate their movements onto a video game character.

“It’s slow progress. But we’re making progress,” says Mary Ann Kinnaird, physical education teacher at Albany’s Montessori school.

She brought the PE Challenge — the game with the balls and rackets — to her school after a colleague recommended it. It has a lot in common with other programs schools have launched to combat obesity: it’s fun, and it gets kids active. “They leave here dripping,” Kinnaird says.

Among children and adolescents, there always will be the athletes — the kids who love sports — who are in no danger of going to pot. It’s the rest of the under-18s that people worry about.

Between 1963 and 2003, the percentage of obese children in America ages 6 to 11 went up from 4.2 to 18.8. Among those 12-19, the percentage rose from 4.6 to 17.4 during that period, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The numbers are based on a child’s body mass index, or BMI, a ratio of weight versus height.

“Kids are no longer in the parks out playing, no longer are they riding their bikes around with their buddies,” says Paul Reinisch, athletic director for the Troy City School District.

“Certain things that you would think that would be normal are lost arts — running technique, throwing a ball,” he adds. “You see in someone who’s 10 years old who hasn’t played games and run, they’re behind. Running and throwing and basic gross motor skills are lacking.”

Blame more than the electronic age. A few years ago, kids routinely had the run of their streets, playing with neighbors until dinner time. Today, many parents worry that something bad could happen to their children. They keep a much tighter reign on their kids, arranging playdates and planned activities instead of letting them run around unsupervised.

“I don’t think kids are climbing trees or playing field games,” says Chuck Waterstram, gym teacher at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School in Wilton. “Their upper-body strength isn’t what it used to be. But I will say we’re very conscious of that.”

The issue is more than just kids who can’t throw. Nationally, more than 280,000 Americans die from obesity-related causes each year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Obesity leads to costly and life-changing illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has called obesity a serious financial concern for New York, where obesity is said to cost the state $242 million a year in public and private medical expenses. More than a million young New Yorkers are said to be obese.

But schools are paying attention. The number of districts nationally that are spending money to improve physical education programs has grown from 43 percent in 2000 to 75 percent in 2006, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.

The issue is about more than just long-term health. Studies around the nation show that the more fit kids are, the better they do academically.

Locally, many school gym classes are reacting by spending less time on team sports like softball in favor of sports that keeps kids moving all the time
Dorothy Nolan, for instance, has installed a climbing wall, ropes and a cargo net in the gym.

“It’s not just a nice thing,” Waterstram says. “Aerobic fitness helps to grow brain cells. (Exercise) changes their biology to help them to learn.”

In the Bethlehem Central School District, gym teachers created soccer games with smaller teams, which gets the students running more often. They also teach “life skills” like ultimate Frisbee, golf, yoga, bowling, cross-country skiing, even ballroom dance.

“We don’t have students long enough to get them in shape,” says Fred Powers, the district’s supervisor of health and physical education. “We want to make sure they find a physical activity they have an interest in and hopefully continue that through life.”

Shenendehowa has even more choices — bocce, table tennis, self-defense, aerobics.
“There’s got to be something they like,” says Becky Carman, the district’s physical education administrator.

At Blue Creek Elementary in Colonie, gym teacher Reggie Daigle holds an early-morning walking club in the warmer weather. As many as 40 kids, plus some parents, have taken part.

In the end, though, advocates say parents need to get involved if they want to encourage exercise. And some do more than others.

Parent Justin Burns, whose two boys attend Blue Creek, says both kids like the walking program. Since the program began, they’ve also started going to a local gym with their father.

“It’s pretty early in the morning, but they get up,” he says. “They just can’t get enough exercise.”

Exercise and electronics can mix

by Alan Wechsler, staff writer

(The Times Union is running a special report on efforts in the Capital Region to encourage fitness and good nutrition to kids at a time of rising obesity rates. In this story, we look at how electronic games — thought to be one of the leading factors to kid inactivity — can actually be used to encourage exercise.)

Gym teacher Jon McClement saw the future of physical education a year ago at a conference at the Desmond Hotel.

He put on a belt and became a character in a virtual reality game.
“You’d have a belt that senses your movement and a screen right in front of you,” says McClement, who teaches at Albany High School. “Balls are dropping out of the ceiling, and you have to keep the balls from going into floor holes. It’s exhausting.”

The technology that brought you the Wii — an interactive video game with a hand control that recognizes movement — has opened up a whole universe of new games that encourage kids to move around. Now, companies are making heavy-duty versions of those games meant to survive daily use by multiple gym classes in an educational setting.

The idea of linking physical activity and video games dates back more than a decade — notably through the arcade game Dance Dance Revolution, where players earn points by following a lighted dance pattern. Schools are only beginning to embrace such games for gym classes, but there already are some local converts.

Red Mill Elementary School in East Greenbush recently paid $15,000 for three Sportwalls, a large electronic panel that kids hit with beanbags or balls to get points. The games speak, light up and keep score. Kids wait in line to play.

“You need something that will trick them into becoming physically active,” says John Murray, co-owner of Advantage Sport and Fitness of Ithaca, which sold the machine to the school.

The purchase came out of a three-year, $750,000 federal grant the district received last year in order to improve its physical education programs.

YMCAs also have gotten involved in the electronic age. A number of local YMCAs have launched a new program that combines exercise bikes and virtual reality. Called Espresso Bike, the program lets kids spin side-by-side while watching a digital version of themselves racing on computer screens.

“We’ve got to appeal to these kids,” says Nancy Gildersleeve, senior program director at Glenville Y. “What do they like to do — they like to play video games.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More students allowed to skip Physical Education

By Denise Smith Amos

Next school year dozens of Taylor High students will skip gym class - but they won't get into trouble for it.

The Three Rivers school board in northwest Hamilton County recently voted to let high school athletes, cheerleaders and band members who have been involved in those activities for at least two years forgo gym class. This opens their schedules to take other courses while their peers sweat out state-mandated physical education classes.

About a dozen other districts in Cincinnati's suburbs and several area private high schools are waiving PE for certain students, taking advantage of a 2-year-old state law. Southwest's school board, for instance, will decide April 23 whether to make gym optional for such students.

"If our kids are involved in an activity over a long period of time, whatever sport they're in, they've already learned or shown a commitment to fitness over a lifetime," said Chris Brown, Southwest's superintendent.

But some educators say this isn't good for teenagers.

Nationwide, health and education groups are pushing for stronger phys ed classes and requirements at a time when school districts need to cut costs and pay attention to student test scores on academic subjects.

A solid PE class - more than sports, cheerleading or band - can teach students about remaining active beyond high school, said Steve Mitchell, a Kent State physical education professor who also coaches high school soccer.

"Consider the high school football player," he said. "The offensive or defensive linemen have very specific roles in a football team. And football is not a lifetime activity. The majority of those kids will stop playing after high school.

"Unless we educate students in other activities they can pursue across their lifespan, this (waiver) does increase the likelihood that they'll become sedentary adults."

Too many high schoolers are already sedentary.

According to national statistics, 12.4 percent of Ohio's high school students and 15.6 percent of Kentucky's were considered obese in 2007. A separate survey of Ohio students showed that 55 percent of school-age teens reported being physically inactive - 11 percentage points higher than the national average.

About half of all states allow schools to make some exceptions to PE rules, including Kentucky, which lets JROTC students skip gym. But only a few let high school students opt out.

James Wagner hopes he'll be one of them.

The 14-year-old eighth-grader from North Bend will attend Taylor High next year and plans to apply for a waiver. He has played baritone and trombone at middle school for two years, marching 1½ to 2 miles a day during summers and through football seasons, sometimes practicing until 8 p.m. "Each time somebody makes a mistake we've got to do it all over again," he said. "It's tiring, especially at night. You just want to go home and do your homework and go to bed."

He plans to stay in band in high school. A waiver, he said, would let him take a study hall period to do homework.

The waiver also would relieve some crowded gym classes and create opportunities for more specialized PE instruction, said Rhonda Bohannon, superintendent at Three Rivers. For instance, Taylor High would create an advanced PE course for students who want to delve deeper into fitness.

Other districts say gym classes would shrink enough to offer body sculpting, weight lifting or other activities such as bowling and archery. But the issue of fairness still comes up.

A Cincinnati Public school board committee recently decided against PE waivers because they would help only the students who were accomplished enough to make their high school teams or band. That gives another leg up to students whose parents can afford such things as private lessons and summer band or sports camps and further disenfranchises low-income kids, said Melanie Bates, a board member.

Coach Lewis' take:
I think that this is a bad idea. Most high schoolers are sedentary and giving them an option to get out of PE does nothing but say "it's not as important as your academics." Physical Education is important not only for the fact that you are teaching about ways to build a healthy lifestyle outside of school, but for a lot of students, that may be the only activity they get. So what if they are an athlete, band member, or cheerleader, could you also use more exercise or participate in activities that you can use later in life when you are no longer an athlete, band member, or cheerleader?

I am tired of the stereotypes that all PE teachers roll out the dodgeballs and sit back and let kids wail on each other. There are A LOT of great PE teachers out there, that are doing great things for students. I also realize that their are PE teachers who do roll the dodgeballs out, drink their coffee, and read the paper. Let's continue to weed out these old schooler's who do just that. I encourage all administrators to pop in on your PE teachers unannounced, and make sure they are building a solid PE program by teaching students about remaining active beyond school.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Schools share ideas to reduce obesity in children

By Al Edwards
Reporter - American Journal

SCARBOROUGH: Judy Campbell has been the Scarborough School Department’s director of school nutrition for 22 years, and she says during that time she has seen obesity among students rise, forcing her and school officials to try and make a change.

Last year, Campbell and other school officials established the Back Pack Program, which allows lower-income students to take home nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables during school vacation.

She said school officials came up with the idea as a way to promote healthy eating for kids, who she says are more obese on average because of easy-to-grab fast foods and a less active society.

“We hope through the Back Pack Program that we will be able to teach kids to make healthier choices and lessen their chances for obesity,” Campbell said. “We hope that by teaching them about the benefits of living healthier at a younger age, this will allow them to teach their own children about the benefits of healthier living.”

Campbell’s idea came to light at the first annual 5-2-1-0 School Symposium on April 2 at Hannaford’s Communications Center at the company's headquarters on Pleasant Hill Road in Scarborough.

Nearly 140 educators from across Maine attended the symposium to discuss topics such as eating healthy, offering a greater variety of food choices in schools and using more physical activity to foster better learning.

The 5-2-1-0 program endorses a four-part message of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of recreational screen time such as playing computer games or watching television, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.

The program is the brainchild of Victoria Rogers, a medical doctor in charge of the Kids Clinical Outcomes and Outreach Program at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

“I noticed that kids in our schools weren’t eating healthy enough and were spending less time being active," Rogers said. “I want this to be a tool, a guidance for schools to incorporate healthier aspects of living into their curriculum.”

The program is working with 114 schools across Maine, including Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth..

At the Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough, physical education teacher Keith Kitchin has spent the last year working with Rogers and trying to incorporate the 5-2-1-0, also known as the Let’s Go program, into his classes.

“We have the posters on the wall informing the kids to make healthier decisions in their daily lives,” Kitchin said. “I am also trying to talk less during my classes and give the kids more time for physical activity.”

In Cape Elizabeth, the school department in 2007 formed a district wellness committee comprised of a health teacher, school nurse, physical education teacher and a food service director to identify nutrition goals for the school.

Since then, Cape school officials have worked to raise awareness of healthy eating such as establishing a Fall Harvest lunch program that is tied into the schools’ gardens, and had a faculty weight-loss challenge program with 15 middle school staff participating.

“Let’s Go has a great support network and is a wonderful initiative,” said Karen Burke, Cape Elizabeth School Board member. “It allows us to better learn about healthy living and prepare our children to lead healthier lifestyles.”

Schools in the Greater Portland region are eligible for small minigrants provided by Let's Go to support their 5-2-1-0 Goes To School efforts. 5-2-1-0 School mini grants and programatic
funds come from significant contributions from Harvard Pilgram Health Care Foundation and the seven Founding Partners of Let's Go. The seven Founding Partners of Let's Go are Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine, Hannaford Brothers,
Maine Health, Maine Medical Center, TD Banknorth, Unum and United Way of Greater Portland.

"The program's coordinators are trying to increase school participation in Maine from 114 schools to 180," Rogers said. Recently, the program has expanded nationally with schools in the South and Midwest participating, Rogers said.

Karen Voci, executive director of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, who attended the symposium, said Maine schools and organizations should be proud of the work accomplished so far.

“Maine really is leading the pack with its efforts,” Voci said. “The rest of the nation is just starting to catch up.”

Using Technology for Fitness and Motivation

Exergaming Rocks AAHPERD
Gamercize brings the fire and makes Tampa come alive!

The national physical education show in Florida last week was full of exergaming, not only on the exhibition floor but also in the seminars, poster sessions and workshops. Gamercize was there too, making it all real!

Even before the conference began there was a special NASPE session "Using Technology in Physical Education Teacher Education" in one of the conference hotels. The use of technology to as a tool to make PE teachers life easier included Web 2.0, electronic student response systems and online assessments. Multiple sessions were presented by Derrick Mears (Western Washington University), Lisa Hansen (University of South Florida), Joanne Leight (Slippery Rock University) and Patrick Fine (Chesterfield Elementary School).

The highlight of the pre-conference was an excellent, in-depth presentation by Lisa Hansen on exergaming (Active Gaming) and Interactive Fitness. This started with issues around obesity, the decrease of general levels of physical activity and the role Recreational Screen Time (RST) has to play in this decline. The obvious choice of using technology for fitness instead of against fitness was presented, backed by research.

The most important aspect of the presentation for me was the thinking around implementation, to ensure exergaming is as effective in the real world as it can be proved in the lab. As Gamercize was early to Tampa, available (and portable enough!) this was used as a demonstration piece for a lesson plan to illustrate hands-on the key of the presentation. Using Gamercize and running through the lesson plan showed a subject's (Thanks Allison!!) resting heart rate of around 60 peak at 130 with an average of 120 throughout the 30 minute piece.

Gamercize itself was set up at booth #736 in the exhibition halls and was constantly busy, with word spreading around the delegates to visit our first appearance here! The key aspects of the equipment that rocked the conference are the ability to play any game, and hence get all kids interested, and the minimal interaction of "move to play" that enables all physical abilities to play exergames!

Of course the low cost of the equipment was of huge interest, and a few delegates between them even purchased all the demo equipment right off the booth at the end of the exhibition! This did make break-down much simpler! There is still a 10% discount running at for those that missed out at the show!

The first of the two formal sessions that delivered the exergaming message at the conference was "#351 - A Critical Look at Fitness Technology for Kids" by Dan Drury of Gettysburg College, parent of two and exergame evaluator. This session concentrated on the factors that make exergaming work, Intensity, Duration, Mode, Frequency and Progression.

Both the exercise physiologist view and kids perspective had equal billing to give a presentation that, I think, shook the delegates up to the fact not all exergames are created equal. Giving PE a structured approach to evaluation is an excellent idea and I agreed with the entire piece. I was surprised but happy to see Gamercize images in the presentation as illustrations for some of the points!

The second session that shook the halls of the Tampa Convention Center was "#551 - Exergames: Bridging the Gap between Video Games, Activity and Fun" by Stephen Yang of SUNY Cortland, parent of two and long standing exergame guru. This session focused on doing rather than talking and included short introductions by notables such as John Foley (SUNY Cortland), Lisa Hansen (USF), Andrea Oh (iTech Fitness) and Aaron Hart (Station PE).

The workshop started with brief introductions and key messages from Stephen's team before breaking out into Q and A sessions with the presenters. All the time the students from SUNY Cortland were getting their game on with DDR, Gamercize and Gamebike - while wearing heart rate monitors which were displayed on the big screen!

The common theme for the sessions was - oversubscription! Dan's presentation had delegates sitting and standing in the corridor outside while Stephen's workshop had attendance well beyond the capabilities of the PA system and even had exergaming spilling out into the concourse!
I would like to give special thanks to Lisa and Stephen for allowing Gamercize to be part of their sessions. Ernie, you were missed and would have enjoyed this conference immensely! Now we've set the scene for exergaming in PhysEd at Tampa all we have to do is deliver it to the kids and Let it Rock!

Sweeping In the New: P.E. teacher helps introduce broomball and more to elementary school for different exercising experience

By Walt Unks
Winston-Salem Journal

When physical-education teacher Shawn Marek arrived at Latham Elementary School in 2006, he found the equipment closet depleted.

"There was a box of jump ropes, some playground balls, basic PE equipment. I did the best that I could. I had to be creative," he said.

Marek began searching the Internet for grant opportunities and came across the Web site The organization matches public-school teachers' requests with donors from across the country. As of April 1, there were 69 active grant requests from Forsyth County.

In the three years that Marek has been at Latham, 10 of his DonorsChoose grant requests have been fulfilled. The grants, which ranged from $120 to about $500, have bought broomball equipment, pickleball sets, box soccer equipment, soccer goals, floor-hockey sticks, pedometers, heart-rate monitors, and safety mats for use under the gymnasium's basketball goals.

"I enjoy teaching sports that they haven't experienced yet," Marek said. "It's nice to see the look on (students') faces after they have played something that they have never played before. They just get really excited. You hear them talking in the hallway or telling their teachers about how much fun they had."

One repeat contributor to Marek's grant requests is Carolina Panthers Charities, which partially or fully financed three of his proposals.

Riley Fields, the director of community relations for the Panthers, said that DonorsChoose approached the team through a grant-making process.

"We initially funded the broomball project in the fall of 2007, then later in the year, last spring, we came back with the other grants," Fields said.

Similar to hockey, broomball is an ice sport that originated in Canada, but it uses a ball and modified brooms instead of a puck and sticks. At Latham, students play on the floor and stage in the gymnasium.

"It was unusual that Mr. Marek received three grants (from the Panthers), but the committee liked his approach to physical education, thinking outside the box to provide children a different approach to exercise," Fields said.

"Take his broomball application as an example. He was looking for an activity with broad appeal that was easy to play, yet used some of the existing equipment he already had. The game uses the building blocks of cardiovascular, motor-skill development, spatial awareness, and teamwork that are used in so many other sports."

Latham is classified as a Title I school, meaning that a high percentage of students come from low-income households. At Latham, more than 95 percent of children get free or reduced-price lunches, school officials said.

Despite additional financing that comes to the school through Title I, Marek said he gets only $200 a year to buy equipment.

"If I was to wait to build up enough funds to buy some of this equipment, it would take a long time," he said.

Marek said that one of his major concerns is obesity among local students.

Nancy Hoover, the program specialist for physical education and health for Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, said that a 2008 body-mass-index screening shows that 37.2 percent of first-graders and 44.1 percent of fourth-graders in the school system are classified as overweight or obese under federal guidelines.

As a physical-education teacher in Buffalo, Marek said he saw students every day or every other day.

"Moving to North Carolina, it was kind of a shock to me to only being able to see students once a week," he said. "For some students this is the only opportunity they have for exercising, which is really unfortunate."

He cited safe places to exercise in their neighborhood, weather, and such distractions as television and video games as reasons for the lack of physical activity in youth. He said he hopes that introducing students to different sports will encourage them to live physically healthy lifestyles.

Marek continues to make proposals for new equipment. His most recent request was for 12 tetherball sets, which were installed on the school's playground in December.

"It gives them something else to do besides kickball and jump rope," he said.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How Cookie Monster Can Help You Lose Fat

When was the last time you watched Sesame Street? If you have a youngster at home, maybe it was this morning! For most of us, however, it’s been years since we last viewed Big Bird and the gang. But, even now as adults, our friends from Sesame Street still have a lot to teach us.

Everyone loves Cookie Monster, that blue fellow that can never seem to get enough cookies. Cookie Monster never worried about calories, fat content or serving size…..he just wanted cookies! Who can forget the song “C is for cookie - that’s good enough for me!”?

But in this age of skyrocketing obesity rates and health care costs, even Cookie Monster has changed his eating habits. There?s even a new song: “A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food,” where Cookie Monster learns there are “anytime” foods and “sometimes” foods. (Source: The Associated Press, 2005; MSNBC)

Cookie Monster still eats cookies. After all, he IS the Cookie Monster! But now he eats cookies in moderation. Rumor has it that Cookie Monster is even experimenting with new, healthier types of cookies to sometimes replace his old favorite chocolate-chip cookies.

So what can we learn from Cookie Monster? First of all, it’s important to note that Cookie Monster is NOT ‘on a diet’. Cookie Monster knows that trying to force yourself to give up your favorite food is a sure path to failure. When we try to ‘willpower’ our way into giving up our absolute favorite treat, we inevitably fall off the wagon. It’s a much better plan to simply cut back on fattening foods, eating them less often and in smaller portions. That way we won’t feel deprived or even depressed, which leads to bingeing and a feeling of failure. Cookie Monster knows that if he tried to give up cookies altogether he would fail and soon be sneaking cookies late at night. Cookie Monster even knows that failing this way is very dangerous because it can lead us to believe that we are failures…..”I can’t do it, so why even try?”

Instead of giving up cookies altogether, Cookie Monster is doing the smart thing and just cutting back. That’s a great lesson for us! If you’ve failed on your last ten diets because you were trying to give up pepperoni pizza…..and you LOVE pepperoni pizza as much as Cookie Monster loves cookies…..then why try to give it up again? Take a lesson from Cookie Monster and simply cut back instead; eat smaller portions less often. Remember, cookies are a ’sometimes food’ now!

The second thing we can learn from Cookie Monster is to substitute healthier foods for fattening favorites. Cookie Monster is experimenting with healthier alternatives to his chocolate-chip cookies. He knows that he can still enjoy his treat without putting on the pounds. How can we adapt this lesson? How about trying veggie pizza instead of pepperoni pizza? If that doesn’t work for you, then how about asking the pizza place to put on 1/3 less pepperoni? Another alternative would be to make your own pizza at home and use the reduced fat or turkey pepperoni that’s available in every supermarket meat department. How about cutting back on the cheese by 1/3, or making your own using low-fat cheese? There are a lot of ways to modify pepperoni pizza to make it healthier!

The third fat-loss tip we can learn from Cookie Monster is that we need to continue our own health, fitness and nutrition education. “This season, each episode opens with a ‘health tip’ about nutrition, exercise, hygiene and rest. Sesame Street also will introduce new characters, such as talking eggplants and carrots, and offer parodies, such as ‘American Fruit Stand.’ Even guest stars will address healthy activities, such as Alicia Keys talking and singing about the importance of physical activity. Politicians have gotten into the act, filming public service announcements with Sesame Street residents. In one taping, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist taught Elmo to exercise ? jumping up and down. In another, Sen. Hillary Clinton and the small red monster discuss the various textures and tastes of foods.” (Source: The Associated Press, 2005; MSNBC)

We all watched Sesame Street when we were growing up, and I must confess that Cookie Monster was one of my favorites. While we may think that we’ve outgrown him and his friends at ‘123 Sesame Street’, they still have a lot to teach us.

Take a moment this week to watch Sesame Street. Take a trip down memory lane. Remember when the Sesame Street gang helped you learn your ABC’s and 123’s, and then think about what they can teach us today.
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