Using PLAY to raise healthy and happy kids

Children PLAYing outsideFact: 31 per cent of Canadian kids are overweight or obese, and the number of kids with Type 2 diabetes has been rising for the past two decades.(1)

Fact: Many kids lack the basic skills they need to take part in traditional [summer] camp activities. (2)

Fact: Only seven per cent of kids ages 5 to 11 and a mere four per cent of those aged 12 to 17 get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity.(3)

What’s leading to these problems?

Simply put, kids just aren’t PLAYing. The days where kids went outside after breakfast, came back for lunch and dinner are gone.

Summer is the perfect time for kids to PLAY all day. The weather is warm, school is out and the days long. But many kids are spending their days looking at screens, while others wait for their parents to take them to the park.

A recent GoRVing Canada commercial highlights this new childhood reality:

So let’s PLAY!

First, give your child the skills to PLAY safely. Everyone wants their child to be safe. But cautioning them to be careful isn’t the answer.

“Overprotective parents create kids who are afraid of taking risks,” says Heather Heagle, executive director of the Ontario Camps Association.

She adds, that “when kids show up at [summer] camp, they’re often fearful of trying new things. They don’t trust their own abilities, and they don’t know what they’re capable of accomplishing.” (4)

So just like your kids learn how to read, it’s time to learn how to safely PLAY. Your local gymnastics club teaches the fundamental movements skills such as swinging, landing safely, jumping, running, and throwing.

Having these skills gives kids confidence to try new things. And encourages them to be active and put down those screens. Not to mention parents don’t have to worry about their kids PLAYing.

Then encourage them to PLAY outside! The Canadian Paediatric Society says that “local playgrounds offer opportunities to climb, slide, jump, run and socialize with other children, and to play creatively.”

The result

“In addition to improved bone health and reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, there are added mental and social benefits to being in nature,” says Mark Tremblay, director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

He adds, “You need to make decisions. You explore. There’s more creativity. You’re not being driven by a digital screen. You’re actually chasing a frog or climbing a tree or you’re exploring in the forest or you’re inventing a game in the park.”

And that all adds up to happier and healthier kids!

Let’s get outside!!

Check out your local gymnastics club about fun programs for your child. Many of our PLAY Gymnastics BC clubs have summer camps, which are a perfect way to start learning those fundamental movement skills. And registration for fall classes is either underway or just about to begin.

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