TRAVERSE CITY — A sedentary workplace made Valeri McCarthy an active participant in physical therapy.
She was in her early 40s.
Reversing that trend and encouraging children to be more active is the purpose of McCarthy’s first foray into book writing: Let’s Go, Milo!” The 49-year-old McCarthy said working as the human resources manager at a Pasadena, California law office and not being active caused problems in her hips.
McCarthy responded by adopting a more active lifestyle, especially after moving to Traverse City five years ago with her husband, Tim.
“Because of my inactivity, by body was compromised,” McCarthy said. “I feel so much better now: mentally, physically, everything. My active lifestyle has helped change how I approach my life now.”
McCarthy didn’t have to look far for the central characters to her book. She only had to look down.
The couple’s two dogs, Milo and Gunner, guide young readers through the book. Milo is the lead while Gunner is right there as the canine companions swim, paddleboard, canoe, ski and even snowshoe.
McCarthy studied art and graphic design at Pasadena City College and used that in her book.
“It’s a very colorful illustration of the dogs doing fun things,” she said.
The book is available on Amazon and has sold 40 copies in the first four days of its release. McCarthy began working on the book in January and wrapped last month.
She said the book is for ages 6 and younger and can be read together as a family because everyone can benefit from being more active.
“I think it’s really important because those are our future leaders,” McCarthy said. “It’s important that we teach them at an early age that being active is just a part of life and there’s (an activity) for everyone.
“There are so many benefits of being active: You build muscle, you maintain a healthy weight and you have a better outlook on life.”
Physical education teacher and fitness enthusiast Katie Tomczyk leads sports and games classes at NMC’s College for Kids and said there are other benefits, too.
“What I see is that it brings kids joy to move,” said Tomczyk, “especially when they’re outdoors or when they’re within an environment where there’s laughter. They’re in the present moment and they’re able to get out all that youthful energy. And it’s social, the play that they do. For kids physical movement is synonymous with play and it’s important that they have that play time.”
A release on McCarthy’s book cites a survey by the National Trust in the United Kingdom where more than 1,000 parents of kids between the ages of 4 and 14 found the children spent four hours a week outdoors. Parents said that’s less than half of the weekly activity the parents had when younger.
“With computers and all the technology, it’s really important for kids and adults to get off computers and go outside,” McCarthy said. “Go play, be active.”
She said “Let’s Go, Milo!” is available in book form and Kindle at Amazon . said she’s talking to local bookstores about carrying it.
“That’s my next step,” McCarthy said.
A book signing is planned for the end of this month in McCarthy’s childhood home of Seymour, Indiana. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit The Boys and Girls Club of America and The Humane Society of the United States.