Constituent Spotlight: Latrice Walker
Oct 3, 2013
Flossmoor resident’s innovative movement program aims to make children fit and smarter
First lady Michelle Obama might want to talk to Latrice Walker, because when it comes to children’s physical fitness, the Flossmoor resident is about 25 years ahead of the curve.
Walker opened her first children’s health club in 1988. It was fitness program for pre-schoolers called Pre-Fit.
“Even in the early 80s, I noticed that kids were getting heavier,” Walker said. “At the time, test scores were falling across the country, so schools were cutting back on physical education, art and music in order to spend more time on science, reading and math. Schools were encouraging a sedentary, unhealthy environment. But test scores were still not rising. My thought process was that a movement program was needed. At the time, I was not considered a visionary—people told me I was hallucinating. Now look where we are today.”
Walker believes that childhood fitness programs are essential because they inspire children to be more creative.
“The majority of children are visual learners, and all children learn through movement. Can you imagine where we’d be if the Wright Brothers were confined to a classroom—with their backs to the windows—and couldn’t watch a bird fly from a tree?”
Today, armed with a Ph.D. in applied cognition and brain development, she is determined to affect social change through a classroom-based movement program that switches on certain areas of the brain that harmonize with subject matter.
“Certain movements help children transition from reading to math, for instance. Certain movement switches on areas of the brain,” she said. “Movement can be incorporated right into the classroom structure. With this program, children will become better learners and perform better on standardized tests. At the same time, we won’t have as many overweight and obese children.”
She has already taken her movement program into private schools around the Chicago area and it has been positively received. She is in the process of quantifying the results of her program.
“My mission is to leave a legacy of learning for children,” she said. “I’m willing to step out and make a change. This program will make children better learners and will result in weight loss.
I’m going to leave huge changes in education.”
For her work, Walker was recognized this year with the inaugural Hedy M. Ratner and S. Carol Dougal Legacy Award from the Chicago-based Women’s Business Development Center.
Ratner and Dougal expressed in a statement why Walker was chosen for the award.
“We chose Latrice Walker as she embodies the principles of the WBDC—the importance of supporting women as they create powerful businesses and move toward financial independence. Latrice has owned multiple successful businesses. She is a skilled trainer and an inspiring teacher. She has devoted countless hours toward supporting women in early childhood education and helped the WBDC create a powerful system of support to childcare business owners.”