Evelyn Gillespie and Rose Cox have been doing things together for most of their lives. The two sisters were both teachers in the East St. Louis School District for more than 30 years. They are still neighbors and they walk together in Forest Park almost everyday. So, it was only natural that the two of them should decide to teach a CATCH Healthy Habits class together.
As a former physical education teacher, Evelyn easily fills her role leading many of the games and physical exercises in the program. “I don’t move like I used to,” admits the former junior high school track and volleyball coach. “But I am still able to show the kids what to do. Show and tell is important at this age. If you show them by doing it yourself, they get excited and learn faster.”
“Evelyn has always been athletic and healthy.” noted her sister Rose. “In the past few years, I’ve become more health conscious myself, so getting involved with the CATCH program made sense.” As a former reading teacher, Rose usually focuses on delivering the nutrition and other lessons to the children. “It’s important to give something back to the younger generation,” she added. “My own health habits changed for the better a few years back, so it’s easy for me to convince the children what they need to do.”
Evelyn has been described as “the CATCH poster child” by the local program coordinator. Her message to the children is simple: Keep Moving! “The sooner we get these kids moving, the better,” she said. “A lot of schools have curtailed their physical education programs, so this program is more important than ever. We only have them for an hour a week, but it works.”
Evelyn also stresses the importance of giving the children insights into different healthy foods and understanding proper portions. “”Some of these kids have never seen nor tasted some of the foods we provide,” she noted. “The kids can influence what their parents buy at the grocery store,” added Rose.
As much as CATCH Healthy Habits is helping youngsters in St. Louis get healthier, it’s also keeping these two sisters young and healthy too. “I’m not a person to sit still,” said Evelyn. “As long as I’m able to move around, I plan to keep going. I tell adults the same thing… get up and keep moving. It’s never too late to catch some healthy habits.”