Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring is in the air.. So lets get out and move!

Although it was only 30 degrees outside, it is Spring. Most of the snow is disappearing which means more opportunities to get out and be active and I definitely enjoy being outside instead of indoors.
I wanted to share my love with being outside with Junior so I suggested we go down to the local SPCA and walk some dogs. Junior said he loves dogs so I explained that we could have fun playing with dogs and being active at the same time. It turned out to be almost too easy to volunteer and walk a dog, they friendly and trusting people at the SPCA just handed a dog over to us as long as I as the adult held onto the leash the entire time. They didn't even ask me for a name so thankfully they are trusting individuals.

We decided to walk a medium sized terrier named Woody as you can see in the pictures. We had a blast as Junior was chasing after Woody and Woody chased after him. I've never seen Junior run for as long of a period of time as he did with Woody. He was having so much fun but he did admit he was getting tired after about 20 minutes. It was also still on the chilly side so we went back to the SPCA and checked out some of the other dogs including the new puppies!

The puppies were addorable and Junior just kept saying how much he loved playing with dogs. We saw some of the other older dogs and we got to give them treats. We are definitely going back again because Junior loved it so much and he enjoyed running with Woody which can be a great form of exercise and activity!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Working Out on a Snow Day!

First thing Junior let me know when I saw him for the first time since Spring Break is that school was canceled today! The second thing he told me is that he worked out with his nephew by doing some push ups because he had the whole day off. I was so happy to hear that he is trying to workout at home and he is sharing exercise with his nephew. The next thing I asked him was if he works out everyday and he replied that it is tough when he has school work. My next objective is to get him to find time everyday to be active!

Junior made me feel bad that I hadn't seen him in more than a week because I was home for break and told me he missed me. Then after talking a bit he asked if I could take him to get a video game disc cleaned at the video store which was very good planning on his part! I said if we had a good workout and bowling session I would take him! A a good session we had!!!

We started off with a game I call "Clean Your Room" in which the gym was split into half so there was my room and his room. There were bean bags scattered everywhere and in order to clean your room and make the other player's messy, you had to use a bowling motion to bowl the bean bags to the other side. Junior really enjoyed the game and was able to practice his bowling form at the same time. I helped him make the connection between how we were bowling the bean bags and real bowling. I then asked him to show me his push ups he has been working on and we also played the quick hands game in the push up position with the bean bags as in the picture above.

We finished our workout with practicing modified bowling. Using empty water bottles as pins and my Gaelic football as the ball, we practiced bowling from different distances. Junior did an excellent job by being able to knock down all the pins in one shot from the furthest distance!

By this point Junior was ready to get his game cleaned and I agreed to take him. At the video store, I noticed that socially he is pretty well mannered. He told me he enjoys being polite by asking people how they are doing and wishing them a nice day. He says please and thank you often and I am going to continue to encourage him to keep up his polite manners. Sometimes I remind him to say thank you when he is so excited that he forgets to say it, but as soon as I remind him he says "oh yes, I like being polite!" I was very happy to hear that over spring break he went bowling with his mother and grandmother which is outstanding. Part of my goal for Junior was to engage in an activity he can do with his family and it is great to hear that they are going together. They even told me that he bowled a strike which is the first time since we started that he bowled a strike on a regulation lane! Bowling does cost money but it is nice to see that when they can afford it and have the time to go bowling, that they enjoy going. They want me to come with the whole family some time on the weekend which is an excellent idea!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hanging at the Youth Center

On Wednesday, I took Junior to the Cortland Youth Bureau's Youth Center to check out what goes on there because I figured it could be a place for Junior to Socialize with others. The Youth Center doesn't quite have structured activities but it is a safe place for kids just to hang out, watch tv, play pool/ping-pong/foosball, listen to music, play video games and they even offer either snacks or dinner for free.

There were about a dozen teens in there when we got there at 7 and although Junior didn't know any of them, one girl recognized him from school. It seems like it will be hard to break old habits because as soon as we got in there Junior wanted to play his video games and watch a movie. I tried to get him to play foosball with the other kids but he said he just wanted to hang with me and show me his movies. He really seemed to be enjoying it so I figured I would let him watch the movie for a short bit. Then I convinced him that we could watch TV or play video games anytime, but how often will we have foosball so we played each other for a while.

As we were talking, he told me that somebody called him the "r" word at school today and it hurt his feelings. I was so upset to hear that but I talked to him about how he has to ignore those people and their name calling. He said he let a teacher know and I said that was good and I told him when people call me names, I know they are the immature ones that are not worth my time because they are not my friends. I think this may be why he just wanted to play with me and not the other kids in the center. The next time we go I'd like to bring his friend, who is also his neighbor, with us because he seems like somebody Junior can hang out with during their free time. I'm trying to encourage Junior to get out of his house and play with his friend instead of staying inside all day.

On our drive home we were talking more and I found out he doesn't know how to ride a bike so maybe we can work on that as the weather gets nicer. I just need to find a bike to borrow. The best part of the night was juniors last few words to me. We were talking about our futures and I was telling Junior how I need to find a job soon. Junior told me that I should get a job in Cortland and live in Cortland so I can be closer to him. He told me that if anything went wrong or if I needed anything, he could be there for me. He said he has my back and that put the biggest smile on my face and I told him I have his back too!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Junior getting "Kinected"

This past Sunday, Junior and I spent about 2 and a half hours together so we got a lot accomplished. His family was going out to eat for a bit so I agreed to hang out with Junior a little longer so they could have some time to themselves.
We started off going bowling and I can see that Junior can remember the cues I am giving him to help with his bowling technique but he is having difficulty executing the skills. I asked him to help me with my form and he knew the cues as he was correcting my form! However, when he tries to bowl, he struggles to execute the skill. I want to find a foam bowling ball that is very light that we could use to practice his form in the gym. I think that when he gets the total form down with the foam ball, it will be an easier transition to the real game.
Junior is constantly talking about playing xbox 360 video games so I asked him if he heard about "xbox kinect." Kinect is a form of Exergaming in which your body is the controller. Kinect is "full body gaming" so players are constantly moving while playing games. The system is incredible, check out my video below and Kinect's website for more info.
Junior had no idea about Kinect and I was shocked, so I took him to my apartment and let him play the game. We were playing Rallyball and a River Raft, part of "Kinet Adventures" and junior was loving it (Those games are the first two pictured in the video below). Both of us were jumping up and down, swinging our arms and legs, and working up a sweat in no time. Junior fatigues easily but he was having lots of fun. I am definitely going to play it with him again in the future because I know he loves his games so it would be better for him to play video games that get him active. If you haven't tried Kinect yourself, I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Eye Opening Night

Tonight I had planned to get a good workout in with Junior and practice his bowling technique, but things didn't go as smooth as planned. Junior hasn't had the best past and tonight he shared a few stories with me demonstrating this. It breaks my heart to hear this innocent 15 year old talk about his hardships as if they are totally normal.

Junior was distracted tonight because somebody broke into his house the previous day. We began our session with just walking around Park Center and talking. Junior didn't want to work out right away, but we talked about other activities we could do in the warmer weather such as volunteer at the SPCA to walk dogs which he really seems interested in. I wanted to get his mind off things and just enjoy himself. We checked out some of the rec sports going on and he liked to cheer on everyone!

As we walked around he found some money on the floor. I suggested we go try to see if anyone around lost the money and Junior agreed. I was very proud to hear him agree. We asked around and nobody said they lost the money. I then suggested that if nobody claims the money, he could use the money for nights we go bowling so Junior asked me to hold the money and save it for bowling.

We eventually got to work on his bowling technique and I am happy to see that he is improving with stepping with opposition and releasing the ball with his palm up. We even made a handshake to celebrate a good shot. I used the handshake for multiple purposes; to establish a personal bond, to motivate and to use as positive reinforcement. Junior started off the night not wanting to go to the gym but in the end he was having a great time and I am seeing how important and valuable my time with Junior is. He wanted a copy of the Cortland Phys Ed Club newsletter because there was a student spotlight section about me and had my picture in it. He wanted to show it to his friends and when I heard him say that, I felt that all my time with Junior is worth every second.