When doctors suggested Nelly Yankovic drug her son so he could sit still long enough to learn to read, and she noticed that 60% of the children she was teaching were taking prescription Ritalin several times a day, it struck her as "not right."
The DEA agrees. As long ago as 1996 they reported that Ritalin (methylphenidate) is "potent, addictive and abusable," and it is "over-prescribed, over-marketed and over-sold." Prescriptions increased 500% from 1990 to 1996.
Nelly decided to do something about it. Being a physical education teacher, she knew from personal experience that conscious physical exercise can develop self-discipline and focus. What if ADD-diagnosed children, instead of taking Ritalin, were taught to correctly swim the crawl stroke?
She contacted neurologists and other experts and convinced them to conduct a study. The results of that study will soon be published in Spain. Here is a sneak preview.
Guess what? Swimming, correctly, improves academic test scores. And as you can imagine, the exercise also improves health. And course we feel more self-esteem when we are strong and have mastered a skill.
I had the great honor to meet with this mom who is making a difference, Nelly Yankovic. Here is an English translation of our conversation.
What inspired you to conduct this study? What experiences in your life compelled you to dedicate your efforts to the field of swimming and its relationship to learning?
The grand inspiration that led me to carry out this research is my son. I want my son to be (as much as possible) happy. In my opinion, swimming is a method that helps students who have difficulties learning to read and write overcome these difficulties.