The troop from Sweet Home began taking day hikes and gathering for socially distanced activities during the pandemic. “It was fantastic. The girls were happy. We were happy,” said Christina Saveskie, troop coordinator for the American Heritage Girls OR 0312. (Courtesy Christina Saveskie)
The troop from Sweet Home began taking day hikes and gathering for socially distanced activities during the pandemic. “It was fantastic. The girls were happy. We were happy,” said Christina Saveskie, troop coordinator for the American Heritage Girls OR 0312. (Courtesy Christina Saveskie)

As the pandemic dragged on, Isaac Forquer saw his kids, 9 and 11, drearily come to the dinner table. They weren’t happy. They weren’t active.

“I banned screens after school,” said Forquer. There was no television and no Nintendo.

“Basically, I made it so that the only way they could entertain themselves was to go outside,” he added.

The end result was drastic.

“They’re happier kids.”

Now instead of coming to the table sad, Forquer’s kids excitedly share stories, even ones about crashing their bikes.

“They’re living,” said the dad.

Forquer is a math and science teacher at St. Cecilia School in Beaverton.

In this classroom, he makes an effort  to limit screen time.

“We’re just not designed for that,”he said.

Forquer also is chairman of CYO’s Track and Field Commission.

Parents have been eager to get their kids back into sports or into sports for the first time. When CYO quietly announced they’d be having a cross-country season, parents flocked to it. Many kids were running when they’d never run before. Some even decided that they’d found the sport for them.

As CYO opened track and field, families with little track experience joined in.

“The experience at track meets is just complete joy — not just with the kids but with the families,” Foerquer said.“People, I can sense, are really ready to be back together; and it’s a bonus if we’re getting together to watch our kids compete in sports.”

Dr. Maura O’Leary is a family physician at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Hillsboro. She’s seen children struggling with getting rid of the habits that were created during the pandemic, though she doesn’t claim to be an expert on the topic.

“Undoing these habits will be challenging,” she said.

Many kids have taken on more screen time through school as well as entertainment. Screens are now a default for a lot of kids, said the doctor.

O’Leary recommends cutting down screen time to the extent possible, then starting small to get kids moving again — with five to ten minutes of activity a couple of times a day.

“Look for something they enjoy,” she said. “Just be creative.”

For many youths still in hybrid learning, cutting screen time may be difficult, O’Leary explained, suggesting that reductions come in other ways, like in entertainment.

Christina Saveskie is troop coordinator for the American Heritage Girls OR 0312 at St. Helen Parish in Sweet Home.“American Heritage Girls is the best thing we ever discovered to keep our girls active,” Saveskie said.

As so many were, the troop was meeting online. Eventually they decided to have outdoor, socially distanced hikes and meetings.

“It was fantastic. The girls were happy. We were happy,” said Saveskie.

She works in a school and could see the challenge for parents who felt they were doing everything. She thought about all the outdoor things that can be done in Oregon: hiking and outdoor games to name a couple. 

“We have so many resources just to be outside,” said Saveskie, a parent herself who noticed how much happier her own daughter was when the troop started meeting in person.

“We went from having limited technology in our house to ‘this is how we’re communicating with the world now,’” she said. “Once we added in American Heritage Girls and seeing others, everything changed.”

The troop meets twice a month, with activities outside when it isn’t raining. When the rain brings them inside, they do socially distanced games and skits.

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org

 

Learn more

To sign kids up for CYO sports, go to go.sentinel.org/3h47DD4.

To learn more about local American Heritage Girls troops, go to americanheritagegirls.org and search under “find a troop.”