Sue Hitchcock, a physical education teacher at Adams Middle School in Tampa, also coaches track and girls basketball. Hitchcock, 35, is on the front lines of the childhood obesity crisis, trying to motivate kids to be active in an increasingly sedentary world. Lisa Greene, Times staff writer
1 Are you seeing more obesity among your students?
I've been teaching for seven years, and with the video games and the lack of physical activity at that age, it's getting to be more of a problem. Our district is trying to address that with getting our schools into a healthy schools initiative.
2 What's your biggest challenge to get kids to be active?
To have kids even try something out. Their biggest excuse is "I don't know how, or I'm not good at it." . . . It's the image. They're afraid they'll look stupid, or someone will make fun of them if they're a little overweight. At this age, kids can be bad about talking about others. We teach them that those things are not tolerated and that we want them to enjoy the activity.
3 Is physical education different today than it was for these kids' parents?
I think so. I think kids are more susceptible to the media — the TV, the ads, everything that's pointing to the imageof beautiful is thin, and they need to be on diets. As a parent with a child getting ready to enter middle school, we didn't have all that outside interference.