News

Q&A: Summer Sanders

Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders helps kids get in gear for the new school year

September 06, 2011
COURTESY ABBI FAMILY

Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders chats with TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi in New York City.

Summer Sanders is more than just an Olympic gold medalist swimmer and a television host. She’s also a mom. That’s why safety, exercise and healthful eating are important issues to her. This school year, she wants to get more kids excited about these things. On August 17, Sanders, who got a hand—or handle—from Schwinn Bikes, did exactly that at a special back-to-school event in New York City.

Sanders came to town to help kids trick out their bikes with some shiny new gear for the upcoming school year. Kids at the event were given a variety of accessories to choose from including bells, personalized license plates, streamers and helmets. Biking is “so good for you,” Sanders says. It’s good for the environment too. That’s the idea behind Schwinn’s new Vestige bike, which is made out of flax fiber. It was just one of the cool, new bikes available to try out at the event. Kids were also invited to take a spin on a real professional racing bike.

But even though the event focused on biking, the main message was clear: It doesn’t matter how you do it, just get active! TFK sat down with Sanders to get her tips on staying healthy and fit.

TFK:

What do you think is the biggest reason that kids aren’t getting enough exercise?

SUMMER SANDERS:

Kids are busy with homework, and there are also a lot of distractions such as video games and computers. It’s about incorporating your [exercise] when you do other things. You can bike to your friend’s house or bike to the playground, as opposed to having a parent drive you there.

TFK:

You’re a swimmer and your husband is a skier. What sports are your children interested in?

SANDERS:

We get that question all the time. People even ask: “What kind of Olympian is your son going to be?” But we don’t talk about that at all in our house. My goal is to introduce my children to as many sports as I possibly can with the hope that they find something they love and are passionate about. Both my husband and I feel very lucky because we were both introduced to our sports at a young age, and we just love them.

TFK:

What activities do you do as a family?

SANDERS:

Every single night, especially in the summer, we go on family bike rides. After you eat dinner you can feel really full and kind of lazy. [Our solution to that: We hop on our bikes.] It’s a great way to relax before you go to bed.

TFK:

What challenges do you face when you’re trying to get your kids to eat healthfully?

SANDERS:

Actually, my kids like healthy foods. The challenge is making the healthy food readily and easily available for your kids. It’s one thing to have the veggies in the house. But it’s another thing to have them already cut up. [One thing parents can do is take some time] to cut up all the peppers and snap peas and carrots and broccoli and put them in containers in the fridge for an easy snack. Half the problem with kids eating salty, fattening foods is that they are in little packs, so all you have to do is open and munch away.

TFK:

Do you have a go-to food when your kids have a sweet tooth?

SANDERS:

We make homemade popsicles. We use juice, some milk, some agave nectar, some honey and some other stuff to sweeten it up. And we have this awesome popsicle maker that you put in the freezer. It takes, like, nine minutes to freeze up. It’s amazing. You can get some really good popsicles out there that are all fruit with no sugar added. The word popsicle just sounds like a treat to kids.

TFK:

What type of role do you think parents should play in getting kids active?

SANDERS:

They should lead by example. Put down what you’re doing two times a day and just go outside and play with them. Teach them something new, whether it’s riding a bike, running or introducing them to a new friend who can do something fun with them. Go out and show them that exercise is important. My kids are constantly asking me, “Why aren’t you going on a bike ride today?” They’re my mini-coaches.

TFK:

You won an Olympic gold medal when you were 19. What led you to become an athlete?

SANDERS:

I have an older brother, and he was my hero. He joined the swim team, so I joined too. I followed in his footsteps, and found something that I was truly good at, that I had natural talent in. I loved the idea of challenging myself and pushing myself and setting goals. I quickly became addicted to the feeling of achieving those goals, and that’s all I wanted to do.

TFK:

What advice do you have for young athletes?

SANDERS:

For young athletes, my advice would be to love your sport and know that nothing comes easy. Hard work, dedication, discipline—all of that—is how you get results. Workouts are hard, but try to keep the fun in there somewhere.


Current subscribers log in/register for timeforkids.com 

Registered Users Log In

 
 
Forgot Password?
Register Now for FREE
Subscriber Benefits
Do it now to get all this:
  • Access to Interactive Digital Editions
  • Online Archives of Past Lessons & Teachers' Guides
  • Interactive Teacher Community
Website Login Page