By Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
I always wonder why we do this to ourselves. Why, as a society, we don't seem to be learning.
The Active Healthy Kids Report about the lack of physical activity by young children is appalling and worrisome. So too are the health statistics – heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions that will take hundreds of thousands of victims – all because of a lack of exercise, and unhealthy eating.
When we don't hang our heads in shame over this yearly report, we air our dirty laundry as a nation once every four years at the Olympics. Why don't we produce more high-calibre athletes goes the common refrain? Well here are some answers to that question.
Perhaps we could start by opening some of the school gymnasiums after-school or on weekends to accommodate organized sporting events. Why do we build these big schools with monster gyms and then not use them to their fullest? How about putting basketball nets back up in the parks, unlocking the tennis court gates for the public to use, lifting some of the stifling rules around public sporting venues where kids used to run and play free. These are public areas that have over the years become desolate because there are too many rules, too much administration to overcome and too much fear that letting children play outside will result in something bad happening.
As a society we have found ways to lock-down playgrounds and extract all the fun from free play. We have transformed natural exercise arenas like outdoor courts or grassy fields into lonely, bare shells frequented by dogwalkers more than children.
While we're at it, can we create a meaningful physical education component for the school curriculum? Does it really have to be dodge ball or red rover until high school? Hiring staff that can teach and guide children in the fundamentals of different sports as part of gym class will pay dividends on an ongoing basis.
Exercise does not have to about one's ability to pay to participate. Nor does it have to be a costly, complicated venture requiring beauracracy. It is, after all, about staying fit and having fun with a helping of spontaneity. Do we really need to teach children those most basic of skills….shouldn't they come naturally?
Let's loosen some of the rules just a bit to make participation a right not a privilege.
Physical inactivity at a young age will affect all of us – young and old. It's time we took responsibility for our part in this chain.
Here is the press release for the 2010 report card on physical activity: http://www.whereparentstalk.com/articles/young-children/inactive-kids-un…