By Staff Sgt. Patrice Clarke
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Mikayla Gangadeen couldn’t wait to start her pushups, even before the monitor began the time. Once started, she steadily continued through the exercise, executing them with military precision. One minute later, as time was called she, along with all the other participants, collapsed on the mat and anxiously awaited her final tally. Mikayla had completed 18 pushups within the time limit; she is 6.
More than 20 children participated in the Schriever Fitness Challenge at the fitness center here Jan. 7. The challenge consisted of five events: the sit and reach test, which measures flexibility; pushups and curl ups, which measure muscular strength; the shuttle run to test agility and then anywhere from a quarter to a one-mile run (depending on age) to judge participants’ cardiovascular endurance.
The idea originated from the 1st Space Operations Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Mike Manor, who noticed his children showing interest in his fitness assessment preparation.
“They wanted to know more about why I was preparing for the fitness test,” he said. “They would see me running and doing the pushups and wanted to participate.”
Manor went to Seth Cannello and Korey Kuykendall, the fitness center director and youth sports director respectively and proposed having a youth fitness assessment.
What started then, led to more than 20 youths experiencing the AF fitness assessment first hand including Mikayla, who has larger aspirations than the fitness challenge.
“I really liked doing this and I like working out with my parents,” said Mikayla. “My dad taught me how to do pushups but I want to have muscles like my mommy.”
Master Sgt. Melinda Fletcher, Air Force Space Command, and her sons Colin, 9, and Brian ,14, also participated in the challenge.
“We live on Schriever and heard about this event from an email sent by the housing office,” said Fletcher. “I really thought it would be good to bring our children out here to see what their mommies and daddies do at least once a year.”
Rachel Shaw, 15, daughter of Col. John Shaw, 50th Operations Group commander, was surprised by some aspects of the challenge.
“The situps were good but I did not like doing the pushups and was surprised many of them didn’t count,” said Rachel. “While I was doing them, my dad was counting and telling me if I was doing them wrong, if I wasn’t going down far enough or my back wasn’t flat.”
At the end of the event, parents and children participated in a no-holds barred game of dodgeball before all the children received medals for participating in the challenge.
“I’m proud that all the children and parents decided to participate in this event and make fitness a priority,” said Manor. “It’s important that fitness and a healthy lifestyle become a family affair, not just that of the military member.”