By: Swin Cash
National Fitness Foundation board member Swin Cash is a five-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA All-Star MVP, three-time WNBA Champion and a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. She has been honored by the WNBA as one of the top 20 Greatest and Most Influential Players in League History and currently serves as the Director of Franchise Development for the New York Liberty. Swin is also founder of Cash for Kids, a 501 (c) (3) charity with the mission to “motivate, educate, & elevate” kids through a particular focus on fitness, leadership and service. Read more about Swin’s background here.
In her own words, Swin takes us through her personal fitness journey and reflects on the values and benefits found in physical activity opportunities.
Discipline. Balance. Teamwork. When I look back on my career as a professional athlete, one that lasted 15 seasons in the WNBA and brought me to two Olympic Games, these were some of the values that helped me become the best athlete I could possibly be. These same values can be found in the fitness opportunities that we provide to our youth. At an early age, whether it was playing basketball in the neighborhood or running outside with my friends, I was exposed to the benefits of physical activity. These opportunities quickly became my outlet. I was able to release my energy, focus on my wellbeing and develop lifelong healthy habits.
I believe in the positive influence of physical activity. Not just because I have experienced it firsthand, but because the numbers never lie. Studies prove that when kids are active, their ability to reach their full potential is enhanced. Evidence supports increased levels of self-confidence, improved focus in the classroom and higher test scores. Considering that children spend up to half of their waking hours in school, our academic institutions have an important role to play in providing physical activity opportunities. With quality physical education at the foundation, schools can implement comprehensive programs that get our kids moving more, both now and in the future.
Like I said, the numbers never lie. As schools continue to face budget and scheduling constraints, physical education cannot be sacrificed. Physical education is the most evidenced-based solution to get youth active today and prepared for a lifetime of health & fitness. It gives kids the balance that they need during the school day and helps them develop the skills and knowledge to be active adults. Younger and full of energy, I remember loving how PE encouraged physical activity in all of its forms. It gave me a chance to disconnect from academics and challenge my muscles in the same way my mind was being challenged inside the classroom. With the increase in course loads and sedentary hobbies, it is more important than ever that we prioritize physical education and promote the lifelong benefits of fitness.
From a simple bike ride through the neighborhood to setting personal fitness goals in physical education, these opportunities opened my eyes to the joy, and the necessity, of physical activity. The values that I learned through being active at a young age eventually helped me accomplish my dream of being a professional athlete and have continued to shape my lifestyle beyond the basketball court. My hope is that behind the efforts of active schools and committed educators, and with the support of dynamic partnerships between the public and private sector, kids from all backgrounds can be given these same opportunities. They too can achieve their dreams.