Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin joined the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, both of whom had been Harvard University's basketball team captain, to play with and read to about 250 students in Washington D.C. as a part of the “Let’s Read, Let’s Move” program on Aug. 1, 2013. NFL player Brian Mitchell and actor Hill Harper participated as well.
Secretary Arne Duncan was once captain of the Harvard basketball team, as was Jeremy Lin – though he played in an Australian professional league instead of in the NBA upon his college graduation. Now the head of the U.S. Department of Education, Duncan travels to schools to teach young children more about the benefits of physical activity, nutrition, and education.
Lin and the other guest stars read “Where the Wild Things Are” and “The Day the Crayons Quit” to the children, then ran outside to play basketball and other games with them. Their hope was to show the kids how fun physical activity can be, in a day and age when many children live sedentary lifestyles and would prefer to be inside on the computer or playing video games than outdoors.
According to the American Heart Association, obesity rates are five times higher than they were forty years ago. There are an estimated 12.7 million obese children in America, most of whom come from low-income, low-education households. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that those who are physically active have a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Studies have also shown that physical activity can improve academic performance and can help keep aging minds sharp.
“I think there’s something inherently human in getting outside,” Duncan told the Washington Post. Hopefully, children across America will be inspired to pursue both academic and athletic goals, instead of leading predominantly sedentary lives. While Jeremy Lin admits that he still plays video games, his utilization of both brains and brawn is a unique and admirable lifestyle. His athletic prowess may inspire children with above-the-norm intelligence to become more physically active, and hopefully, young athletes will be encouraged to model their study habits after the Harvard graduate.