Children Get Moving with Teddy Bear Olympic Games

Children's museum offers little ones a chance to learn about and play some Olympic games.

Children got moving and made a new furry friend Saturday at the Children’s Museum of Art.

Part of the museum’s Teddy Bear Clinic was designed to introduce children to the Olympics. The event was one of more than 1,000 local meetups selected by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move fitness initiative that to highlight Olympic sports Saturday, Olympic Fun Meetup Day.

About 24 children, bears and 15 watchful adults paraded around the museum behind a colored paper torch. They watched snippets of the opening ceremony and highlights of some of the games that will be played in London over the next few weeks. Then they played for their country by clearing miniature hurdles, kicking the game-winning goal and swishing the basketball net.

“It’s good for them to see what’s happening, why it’s a big deal and see it in real life, gear and body movements,” said Marian Bryant, lead educator and outreach coordinator of the museum.

Children know swimming involves water, but they might not know Olympic swimming means wearing goggles, Bryant said, gesturing by cupping her finger over her eyes, wearing swim caps or body suits.

Each month, the museum hosts a new educational program. This month, Bryant said they wanted to explain the Olympics — the torch, medals, ceremony and world stage — and let children play some of the sports.

“It’s all experiential,” Bryant said. “The program is designed for children ages 4 to 8. It’s perfect for them because that’s all they do.”

Asher Gearity, 3, of Cleveland was initially quiet nodding when Bryant asked if he’d like to kick the kickball into the collapsible net. The more goals Asher made, the more animated he became with his kicks.

“Would you like to grow up and be an Olympic athlete?” Bryant asked as she held the net.

Asher didn’t answer, though he said he did like soccer and ice skating. If he could be an Olympian, he said he would want to be an ice skater.

“But sometimes I fall,” he said.

Asher’s mom, Suzann Moskowitz, said she and her husband try to spend as much time with the children outside as they can.

“Even if it’s not an organized activity, they’ll find a way to be active,” she said, adding her boys have yet to learn about video games. “We’ll participate with them, running races, riding bikes with them.”

Debbie Knerim, of Cleveland, watched as her grandchildren played at the museum after the games. The games, and sports in general, offer mental, physical and social stimulation by teaching children about teamwork and competition.

“It’s important to learn to win and lose graciously,” Knerim said. “When you lose, you know there’s another time and you have to work harder because that’s what life is — it’s about participating, not winning.”

Her grandson, Russell, 9, said he would like to be an Olympic athlete.

“I like games where you I really need to concentrate. I don’t really know what sport” he said, pausing to assemble a train track. “I’ve always loved running.”

Sunday, the museum will be having a craft corner to create Olympic flags. In August, the museum will continue the Olympic sporting theme by hosting a program about archery, weightlifting, rhythmic gymnastics and handball.

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