Pershing Elementary School has been trying to pass a bill (this year: SB 669)…for six years. The idea is to make the jumping jack the official exercise of Missouri.
It started in the spring of 2009. A group of fourth graders were on their way to the Capitol for their annual field trip to learn about Missouri’s symbols, government, history and geography. As they were passing through Laclede, Mo., they stopped by the Pershing Boyhood Museum. Then they got the idea to honor General John J. Pershing and attempt to make the jumping jack the state exercise. Those inspirational students are now in ninth grade.
Our school hasn’t given up. For the last six years, every chance we get, we try to lobby anyone who can help. Students in multiple grades write persuasive letters. On every field trip to the Capitol, we hand out student brochures, letters and buttons. Students take time off school to go to state committee meetings to testify. We have been featured on television and newspapers across the state. We will be persistent.
Maybe you don’t know General Pershing, but we at Pershing are quite fond of him. He was the creator of the jumping jack, a fearless general, and a loving teacher for African American children. In fact, he was the first person to receive the “General of the Armies” award. The only other person was George Washington. Pershing was a very important Missourian.
The health issues with Missouri, which you may have heard about, do actually tie into the reason for passing this bill. According to a report in 2012 by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Missouri is the 10th fattest state in the United States. And the worst part: Missouri has an official state dessert, which is ice cream. Missouri is overweight.
All we want is a Missouri state symbol of exercise. Well, Maryland has a wonderful state exercise symbol. You guessed it: walking. Those citizens are the only ones who can enjoy a state exercise. Ah, but walking requires a large, safe, pre-made area, and sometimes specific clothing, depending on the person. What do jumping jacks require? Nothing. Not even a large space. More importantly, a 10-minute workout/warm-up doing jumping jacks burns 95 calories. That’s more calories burned in the same amount of time than walking, golf, jumping on a trampoline…even major sports like dancing, swimming or soccer. Doesn’t jumping jacks sound like our solution to Missouri’s obesity?
Pershing Elementary School is working hard to pass SB 669, maybe even as you are reading this. We want to honor General Pershing. If this passes, more people will know who Pershing is and what he did for our country. The health of Missouri may depend on it.