Americans have agreed that childhood and youth obesity is an epidemic. We have done a great job identifying the problem since the early 2000’s and coming up with funding for solutions since 2008. Stay on task and spread the awareness of available solutions with the ideas below.
Fact: Twenty-three minutes of recess, that is the National average among elementary school children. Considering that other blogs have touched on this, I will be brief. For some students, this twenty-three minutes includes lunch. The lack of movement has encouraged our teachers to be more creative in the classroom providing movement breaks. Thank you teachers!
Though I do believe the movement breaks slightly increase our children’s ability to focus, we need to remember that this does not meet the necessary 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular movement needed to prevent obesity and to enhance children’s mental capacity.
Funding: Yes. The decreased funding for physical education is a problem, but recess is cheaper. Are your schools fighting for the cheaper option? We need to start somewhere, and I don’t know about you, but I loved recess! Guess what?! It’s virtually free…so are grants:
We need to encourage parents to get longer recess times on the ballot, and recess every day, so children can meet the basic daily requirements for proper growth and development including motor skills and mental health.
Let’s not forget that recess encourages problem solving, resolving conflict, and other important skills. An extra thanks to those teachers who provide a “guided” or “structured” recess that encourages these life-skills. An extra-extra thanks to the teachers who get in there and move because they know the kids will be more likely to play if they show them how! Seriously folks, talk to your teacher friends today and learn some of these realities!
Sports Teams & Community Recreation Programs
The funding for school programs tends to be included in our taxes. Sports & Community programs tend to come out of pocket; though, there are grant resources (click the link above) that can be applied to afterschool and community programs.
The way I see it, we have a couple issues here: kids who want to play and kids who don’t. Youth on sports teams tend to want to play. They also tend to be fit and have more income to pay for extracurricular activities. A lot of communities are better at recognizing that all youth should have equal opportunity for playing time.
This means the least fit kid should see as much playing time as the most fit kid, typically until Junior Varsity Sports. Is this happening in your community? Is there funding for kids who would like to play and do not have the money? How about starting a sports scholarship for different age groups, male and female, to offer more opportunity for lower income families to have their children in athletics? Your fitness center has the ability to take donations from members to create this scholarship. You have the power to help!
What about Youth Who Don’t Like Team Sports?
I think you might be able to predict what I am going to say. Music and arts are physical. You are right, they may not meet the 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular health, but they very well could meet the 20-30 minutes of strength, coordination, agility, and motor skill requirements that we are also lacking. Ask these kids what type of “play” they like.
You could have several 30 minute to 1 hour programs a month: freeze tag, hikes, walk your dog day, kayaking, cycling, gardening, music lessons, voice lessons, acting classes, art, sculpting, photography, etc. The list can go on and on. How about a 24 hour “lock-in.” You could schedule several games, events, fundraiser activities like a dance-a-thon or spin-a-thon! Is your gym running any recreation programs like this? Is there grant money for things like this in your community?
I hope your wheels are turning! Get creative and incorporate some of these ideas into your facility by the new year!
Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT