© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jackie Joyner-Kersee On Her Work To Improve The Fitness Of Young People

Jamie Heuer

East St. Louis native Jackie Joyner-Kersee is one of the nation’s premier athletes, with 6 Olympic medals to her name. Sports Illustrated named her the Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century and tomorrow she will be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

These days, she focuses most of her energy on promoting fitness among young people through the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and her work as a spokesperson for the St. Louis Public Schools' AIM for Fitness Project.

She’s also involved with Run, Jump, Throw, a new program sponsored by Hershey and USA Track and Field designed to encourage physical activity among kids 7 to 12.

“What I am seeing is that with physical education being cut, and recess and lack of activity, is that there is a need. And that is one of the great things about USA Track and Field and the collaboration with Hershey doing the Run, Jump and Throw program,” said Joyner-Kersee.

She sees recess as important because it gives kids time to play in a relaxed environment that fosters creativity and leadership.

Credit courtesy photo
Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Despite the nationwide prevalence of childhood obesity, Joyner-Kersee is optimistic about the possibility of getting kids active.

“I’m more of a motivator, and I never look down on anyone. I always think that there is hope,” she said. “I still believe we can be active as a nation, as a family.”

She encourages kids to try things outside of their comfort zone, but also tries to meet kids where they are. If they’re not comfortable running, they can try walking first, for example.

“You’re going to have some that are going to challenge you, but then you challenge them back,” said Joyner-Kersee.

The key, she added, is getting them to try instead of putting up a wall.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

Stay Connected
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Ways To Subscribe