Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Kids get taste of life without TV

Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — Nine-year-old Aaron Ledford spent part of his weekend looking for deer and eating out with his father. He didn't miss TV at all.

        Kourtnee Howard traded an afternoon with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for an afternoon at the Middletown YMCA, where she made a clay flower pot.

        Aaron and Kourtnee are two of Mayfield Elementary School's 193 students who last week signed pledge cards saying they would be TV-free for a week. About one third of the school's 693 pupils are participating in the fifth annual National TV- Turnoff Week, sponsored by TV-Free America, a nonprofit group, that encourages Americans to reduce the amount of television they watch.

        “I wasn't that sad,” said Kourtnee, 11. “I had more fun making the pot and helping the other kids than watching TV. You don't get much exercise when you're a couch potato.”

        This is the first year that children at Mayfield have been asked to participate, Principal John Petrocy said. Those who remain TV-free through today will participate in a make-your-own sundae and cake party. Their pledge cards are displayed in the hallway.

        “I think 30 percent is pretty good for our first year,” said school nurse Terry Weingartner, who is overseeing the project. “I think we'll have an even bigger response next year when the kids see what the others did.”

        Zeth Perry said he spent his first afternoon without television planting flower seeds outside with his mom. Then he went out to play with his friends.

        “Just me and my mom are doing this. Not my dad or sister,” said Zeth, 8.

        “My mom likes it because she doesn't think we should watch TV,” said Tiffanie Salmon, 10, who was planning a weekend trip to Paramount's Kings Island.

        Aaron said it wasn't too hard skipping television.

        “I don't watch TV a lot,” he said. “But I do when I get lazy. I think this is helpful because sometimes it hurts your eyes to watch TV. You get to be with your family more, too.”


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