Tag Archive | inspiring kids

My Son’s Complex Congenital Heart Defect and Zamzee

Bobby_hiking

By Trish Whitehouse

My son Bobby is now 13 years old. He was born with a complex congenital heart defect, which means it wasn’t “just” a hole that would close on its own, or a murmur. It was a big deal. Our heart has 4 working chambers, 2 atria, a R and a L, which bring blood into the big pumping chambers underneath them. Those two bottom chambers, called ventricles, are responsible for pumping blood all over the entire body. The R ventricle pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen, and the L ventricle, the stronger and bigger of the two, pumps that blood to the entire body for us to use so we can move and eat and sleep and function.

When Bobby’s heart was developing, for some unknown reason, his L ventricle didn’t form properly. That’s the bigger, most important one. Essentially, his left ventricle is useless. About 15 or 20 years ago, these babies used to be called “blue babies” and they were comforted while eventually over a few hours or a few days, they decompensated and died. We’re very lucky that Bobby was born at time where that was not our only option.

Bobby went through a series of palliative surgeries. They can’t cure or fix his heart, but they can make it work for as long as possible. I’m told by his cardiologist that these kids do very well and live healthy lives well into adulthood. I don’t ask for much more than that anymore, because that’s all I really want to hear. The only limitation he has is for him to “self limit”– meaning that he should pay attention to his own body to guide him for exercise.

Exercise is about the best thing kids with a single ventricle can do to keep their hearts healthy. But for a lot of parents, it’s the one thing they dread watching their kids do. The kids turn out to be what we nurses call “cardiac cripples,” meaning the kids aren’t allowed to exert themselves. As a result, these kids live in fear of doing ANYTHING.

Bobby_SwimmingWe are a family of intense competitive athletes, and it’s lucky for Bobby that he was born into this family. Although exercise is not easy for Bobby, we find ways to encourage him to do it. He huffs and puffs going up a flight of stairs and he bikes but he has to go slow. He swims on a team but he has to swim with kids half his age because he can’t keep up with the teenager. Because of all the months of critical care in the hospital following complications from the surgeries, he’s not that coordinated. He plays soccer in school, but he basically watches the ball go by and then he’ll trot after it for a little bit, but he lets the “real athletes” kick it around the field. It’s kind of sad to watch. Who am I kidding, it’s horrible to watch. Every mother wants their kid to make that winning shot, just once, or to at least give the opponent a run for their money. Literally. Continue reading

Reflections on a Year of Using Zamzee at Greenfield Hebrew Academy

By Sue Loubser, Director of Technology at Greenfield Hebrew Academy

Sue Loubser and Jon Babul from the Hawks Development Team.

Sue Loubser and Jon Babul from the Hawks Development Team.

Our year is over and we reached our goal of A Million Minutes of Activity! We never doubted we would, although we did learn a few lessons as the year progressed.

When we launched the program last September, the school was abuzz. Our head of school recalls that “kids went home and were jumping around during dinner and running around in place as friends talked to them. Children who ordinarily couldn’t easily wake up in the morning or had to be dragged out of bed suddenly popped out with great enthusiasm and energy to maximize their minutes.” Parents were amazed by the changes in their kids’ behaviors.

Although this was launched as a Middle School project – there was so much interest from younger students that our PTSA started selling Zamzee meters. They sold 50 in short order and it felt like everyone was being active!

We held a lot of competitions during the year to keep students motivated. Originally our goal was to mandate the wearing of Zamzees as part of our PE program, but mid-year we took that requirement away. That meant we had to help the kids stay motivated to keep using Zamzee.

Students could win gift cards, T-shirts, chocolates (from Israel), drinks, baseball caps and even an iPod in random drawings or as rewards for exercising over a certain number of minutes. We were also given 20 pairs of Braves tickets to give to students who met a goal for exercising. We had random reward days where if you uploaded during the day, you received a treat (which could be a Zamzee flashlight or a skin) or even a surprise recess. Continue reading

Greenfield Hebrew Academy Reaches a Million Minutes of Activity with Zamzee!

GHA_and_Zamzee
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What to do When Your Son Doesn’t Love Baseball

By Andrew Kardon from Mommy’s Busy… Go Ask Daddy

Jason at the bat

I played Little League as a kid until I was almost 13 years old. I was atrocious at first and hated the game. Really, I detested playing. But as I got older, I came to love baseball. Now it’s a lifelong passion.

My oldest son Jason, however, is a bit different. Jason will watch the occasional Yankees game and even enjoys going to the stadium with me. He plays Super Mario Sluggers on the Wii all the time. But actually going outside to play baseball? That’s a whole different story.

I wanted Jason to share my passion for baseball, so we signed him up for T-Ball. When the season started, he really wasn’t very good. He understood the rules. But throwing the ball or swinging the bat just weren’t his strengths.

That first year, I was just a dad cheering him on from the sidelines. It was a tough season. The combination of his lack of skills mixed with the tremendous amount of “sit around and wait” time, just made the whole thing a painful experience for Jason.

At one point he had asked why I wasn’t a coach. So to get him to give baseball another chance, I said I’d be his coach the next year if he played again. He agreed reluctantly and the second year, I signed up to officially be an Assistant Coach. See, I figured, like me, he’d start to love the game once he got older and got a bit better at playing. It probably took me three or four years to really start enjoying the game myself as a kid. I was hoping improvement in Jason’s skills would be all the encouragement he needed to keep at it. Continue reading

How Adyson Became My Exercise Buddy

Rebecca, Abigail and Adyson with their Zamzees

Dear Zed and Team,

America’s obesity crisis is a problem that’s very personal for my family and me.

Our oldest daughter is overweight for her age. Our middle child, Adyson, is overweight as well. Adyson is 9 years old and weighs 102 pounds now, but she was 106. Our youngest daughter, who is 8, is on the opposite side of this. She can’t gain weight. As for us, I am considered to be obese. But my husband is an Army Ranger, so he stays overly active.

Last spring our pediatrician suggested that my oldest daughter attend Camp Strong4Life. At Strong4Life, kids learn about exercise, proper meal portions, and how to have fun while being active. Before the kids go, the families attend a weekend retreat to learn how they can positively support their children’s health. On the last night of the retreat, the camp director asked Adyson if she also wanted to join the summer camp. So the following Monday we were off to see our doctor, to get a physical and make sure Adyson qualified (you need a BMI of a certain level to attend). Of course, we qualified.

When the two older girls came back from camp, I was ready for us all to start a new healthy lifestyle. I had noticed that over 85-90% of the camp parents were overweight! I was so ashamed of myself. How could I be a positive role model for my girls and ask them to eat healthier and get moving if I wasn’t myself? So I made that change with them. We cleaned out the cupboards, limited what sweet treats were in the house, and replaced junk food with healthier snacks. We stayed active all summer, swimming, geocaching, and walking the Georgia trails. The girls weren’t too happy about it, but they went along with us. We didn’t give them much choice! Continue reading

Breakdance Battle like George Sampson

The Breakdance Battle challenge on My Zamzee

Getting fit isn’t just about doing grueling sprints and reps! Have you taken a Zamzee challenge yet?

Challenges are timed, story-book style adventures that make moving a lot more fun and exciting. Some challenges, like the Breakdance Battle, are single stage: get enough Pointz in the next 10 minutes and we’ll award you free Zamz. Other challenges, like the Hot Air Adventure, have successive stages: pass them all and you’ll win a heaping pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (what we refer to as bonus Zamz or a Pointz multiplier).

When you take challenges you can move however you want to rack up those Pointz. But we encourage you to get creative. After all, it’s not every day that we get to imagine ourselves as dance superstars, Major League Baseball player or medieval knights! Continue reading

Going the Extra 400 Meters

With the Olympics coming up this summer, there’s a lot of buzz about the superstar athletes representing Team USA in London. It’s this time of year that kids decide they want to grow up to become the next Ryan Lochte or Hope Solo, and we love how that gets kids motivated to get moving.

But for most kids and families, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the lives of Olympic athletes and our own efforts to get physically active. The world of an Olympic gymnast who trains eight hours a day is pretty removed from everyday efforts to encourage our kids to actively participate in gym class (if it’s offered) or play outside (if it’s safe and the weather cooperates).

Sometimes it’s helpful to have a little motivation that seems closer to home. Here’s a story that’s inspired us: Continue reading