Sand Springs PE Teacher Fighting Obesity To Make State 'So Much More'
SAND SPRINGS, Oklahoma - The United Health Foundation's new America's Health Rankings puts Oklahoma in 45th place. It says our biggest problems are heart disease and obesity.
So we met a teacher who's working overtime to keep his students on-the-move, far out-in-front of poor health.
Processed and sugar-filled foods and drinks are compromising so many young lives before they've even begun. Which is why in Sand Springs, Chris Corbin reminds his students to A.B.A.: Always Be Active, and in so doing, make Oklahoma So Much More.
"Everyone that's in the fitness class, start walking on that track," he says. "High knees, high knees!"
It seems Corbin never stops, but he doesn't feel like he has any choice. Not in a state that has seen childhood obesity numbers triple since 1980. Not in a state where 80 percent of obese children will become obese adults.
Not in a state that's expected to have the highest obesity rate in the country by 2018.
"We not only get our heart's healthy; we get our brains going," Corbin tells his students.
No time to waste. No other choice.
"Get not only the kids motivated to be healthy and be fit and have the knowledge of what that means to be fit - but then go home and share that with their mom and dad and brother and sister," he said.
Corbin is the PE teacher at Angus Valley Elementary School, so you'd expect him to be active.
"And whenever there isn't PE sometimes he goes out and runs laps," student Carter MacDonald said.
But, if you check out the clock, you'll find out this isn't during the school day. This is during the dinner hour; a nearly non-stop evening sweat-a-thon that runs through the school year and includes the kids and their parents.
"We were able to engage in this together, and so that's really a lot of fun for us," parent Halee Wood said.
"Getting parents here at night is a big deal," Corbin said. "It's powerful to have a mom or dad or a relative there with you to do that and show that it does mean a lot to be healthy and fit."
I'm always trying to get my son 'hey you wanna go for a run with me?’ and he's always like 'no, cause it's exercise, right?'
So Corbin tries hard to make exercise feel like a game, at least for the kids.
"We, like, try and knock down each other's pins down, but we can't block because, well, you wouldn't block in real bowling," MacDonald said.
With occasional 90-second rest stops filled with a motivational mantra against sugar and junk food.
"It's not too late I tell the kids all the time," Corbin said. "'Do you drink pop every day?' 'Well, yeah.' 'Well, can you change that?' 'Yes.' And it can change right now, it can change today."
Student Brynlee Durborow said, "You need to exercise and not just be lazy because if you be lazy and just eat cake and stuff then you just have to go to the hospital a lot.”
And keeping the kids from the hospital is Corbin's passion; keeping them from being saddled with a lifetime of chronic disease and early death.
A Pied Piper of PE, hoping there are ripples that spread from the little school gym, keeping the kids living longer in a state that finally lives up to its potential to be So Much More.
"And before you know it, I tell them Sand Springs will be healthy and people will be like 'how's Sand Springs healthy?'" Corbin said. "And then it'll spread to Tulsa and then Oklahoma, and I tell 'em, before you know it, we'll take over the world with this fitness and health stuff."
Now at Angus Valley, at Corbin's request, holiday fundraising candy sales have given way to holiday fruit sales, and they make just as much money, if not more.