The course, named “Growing Up," has been established by former high jumper Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tam and has attracted parents seeking an environment for their children to become active and stay healthy during the summer break.
With years of experience teaching sport to youngsters, Tam is well aware of local parents’ wish for their children to be taller, lose some weight or increase their energy level.
The training program could be an answer to those prayers as children otherwise distracted by addictive video games and an unhealthy lifestyle live the life of a professional athlete.
“I want to create a healthy lifestyle option for these children and help them acquire the soft skills that will be helpful later on in their lives,” Tam said.
Inspired by Tam’s time as an athlete, the course requires learners to be responsible for taking care of themselves, from doing chores to washing their clothes and cooking their own food.
A dozen boys and girls aged between eight and 12 have signed up for the very first class of the program that runs throughout June at Quan Khu 7 (7th Military Region) Stadium in Tan Binh District.
Regardless of their physique or characteristics, all participants must follow a strict daily schedule that runs from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm.
A normal day for these pint-sized athletes starts with them planning their daily activities after breakfast.
The children then hit the field to play some sport at 8:00 am, which can be soccer, basketball, dancing, or swimming, depending on the date of the week.
At 10:00 am, the youngsters are required to wash their sweaty outfits by hand before finishing for lunch at noon.
They are able to take a two-hour break before partaking in vocational classes from 2:00 pm.
The young ‘athletes’ wash their clothes after playing sport. Photo: Tuoi Tre
These lessons teach them how to shoot photos, make handicrafts, or sometimes collect litter for recycling.
“We do not actually teach the professional skills to children but rather keep their day busy and help them appreciate the value of different careers,” Tam elaborated.
The vocational training is followed by martial arts, during which learners are instructed with basic self-defense techniques.
Their day concludes with dinner at 6:00 pm.
Once a week, Tam takes the children to a local market, helping them select their protein, veggies and fruits.
Prior to the program, the participants were brought to the Ho Chi Minh City Nutrition Center for an overall evaluation, after which experts recommended a specific diet for each individual.
Assisting Tam during the course are four other coaches, who play an essential part in encouraging the children to keep up with new lifestyles.
“Some cried and wanted to quit after the first days. We came up with many ways of cheering them up as they adapted to the schedule,” Nguyen Phuc Doan, one of the coaches, recalled.
Despite seeing their children exhausted after each day, many parents are very happy with the positive changes.
“My son has lost 3.5 kilograms after only two weeks in the course. The more important thing is that he has become much mature,” one parent said.
“He has been helping the family with chores and taking better care of his personal hygiene,” he added.