The winner of eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps, of the U.S. swim team, has demonstrated what it takes to be a champion. As children start back to school, they will benefit from learning how Phelps got to be a world-class athlete.
Phelps achieved his goal by doing what he loves and practicing daily. He used both his body and mind. He set goals, met them and exceeded them. He also remembered the people who helped him succeed.
Phelps loves to swim, and he applied that love to his work - training to achieve Olympic gold. Students can do the same.
Linda Kay Goodwin
Kids, this is how you can put his award-winning strategies to work in your own lives:
If you like to run, try this tip. Recite, while you are running, the material you have to memorize. If you enjoy art, put tough information in a fun or comical picture. If you're a sports fan, tape information to baseballs, basketballs and soccer balls so facts jump out at you.
Like Phelps, practice what you learn. One jump in the pool didn't earn Phelps eight gold medals this year alone. Along the way, he endured some water up his nose. But he eventually got it right, and you will, too, when you take the time to do your homework.
Phelps had another trick under his swim cap. He used his mind and his body in tandem to accomplish his goals. For example, he didn't abuse his body with tobacco, drugs or alcohol. He got enough rest and ate healthy foods like veggies, fruits, low-fat milk and cheese, grains and low-fat meats.
Phelps also sets goals. A goal is something measurable, reasonable and achievable. You'll need to set goals for yourself. Phelps predicted the time in which he would finish a race. He not only met his goals, but he also exceeded them. He won the 100-meter butterfly swim by one-hundredth of a second. Imagine breaking that record for completing your homework!
Last, but not least, Phelps remembered the people who helped him succeed. He hugged his mother when he won! He also showed appreciation for his teammates. He knows that teammates, like classmates, don't say or do hurtful things to one another.
That lesson, to cheer each another on, is one that can be used to start the 2008-2009 school year out on the right foot. David S. Runk, superintendent for the Mifflin County School District, said he wishes every student a successful and happy school year. He said teachers are prepared to provide a winning education for all students in Mifflin County.
"We encourage parents and students to focus on the positive. We want parents to get to know their children's teachers," he explained Tuesday. "We have 30 new teachers this year. They're an impressive group. They've had excellent mentors and training, and we're ready to go for the new school year.
"Our focus is the kids. We want to accent the positive. We like kids. We're all about achievement and developing individual techniques in working with students to ensure success," Runk said, recalling he brought an apple to his teacher on the first day of school.
Like the Olympic champion Phelps, area children have the world at their fingertips. They also have every opportunity to succeed, especially with the quality of schools in the Juniata Valley.
Here's to wishing all students a happy, healthy school year.
Linda Kay Goodwin, RN, BSN, MBA, is a nationally award-winning columnist and recipient of the American Academy of Nursing Media Award for Excellence in the presentation of Health Care Information to the Public. She is employed by Mount Nittany Medical Center and West Virginia University Medical Center.