The Ripple Effect – Active Healthy Kids
Apologies for not being active on the blog lately. I have been preoccupied.
Many of you will know that I am writing a book. I had an opportunity to present a paper on my book at the International ACHPER Conference in Canberra in January 2017. Therefore, to help make my blogs even more relevant and on topic, it was important to get my book to completed manuscript stage so that I could send it away to the editor. To do this, I needed to put in a concentrated effort so that I could achieve that goal.
Done! With a bit of luck, I should have my book out sooner rather than later. Watch this space.
Last year I started a website and started to blog about issues related to my book - getting children active and keeping them in physical activity for the rest of their lives. This book is primarily aimed at both children and their parents.
Unfortunately, our country is in crisis. Every time we switch on a news bulletin, open a paper or read a report, we hear how unhealthy we are as a nation. This was never more brought to our attention when late last year Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) released a report card where the physical health of our children was compared to those of 37 other countries around the world. We scored D-.
This is a dagger in my heart. I have been a physical educator for over 36 years and to see our children score this lowly is tragic. Where have we gone wrong? Where to from here?
A combination of systems has slowly failed and we are sinking into the mire. Those systems are family; government; schools; infrastructure; and technology.
The biggest and most urgent issue that needs to be addressed is family. We have become a lazy society and appear to accept that as standard. Our children need to see significant other people in their lives take the lead and show that they value healthy living - talk about healthy living and model healthy living. Where do children spend the majority of their time in their younger years? At home in the care of their parents. Parents, time to step up and lead from the front. If we are going to find a way out, then you must take responsibility and model and talk about healthy living.
Why is this important? It is very obvious, but we appear to have our head in the sand. If you are not healthy, you cannot parent effectively. If you have children, you must make every effort to keep yourself healthy. It is not rocket science. Look for opportunities to be physically active, eat healthily, get adequate sleep and drink plenty of water. Model that behaviour to your children as often as you can and speak in a positive manner about physical activity and healthy living.
The government must be brave and do more. Rather than protecting their own interests so that they can stay in power, be brave and reallocate money and resources so that our nation can become healthy. To start with, money needs to be reallocated within our health systems to prevent people from becoming unhealthy rather than trying to fix them once they have become unhealthy due to poor lifestyle, physical inactivity and inadequate diet. Let’s lift the efforts to educate everyone on these matters. This can be done through media advertising and community education sessions.
Schools and educational institutions must also be brave. Allocate, or at least ensure, the correct amount of recommended time is being afforded to children throughout the school day. Teachers of other subjects must also be encouraged to speak positively about physical activity and healthy living and encourage students to have standing breaks during classes and even exams. Another option is for the nation's educational leaders to restructure the school day so that physical activity is worked in either at the beginning or end of every day whilst the middle of the day is dedicated to the more traditional educational areas.
Our infrastructure and physical environment should be considered. Governments and local councils have a big say in this. How can we make our suburbs, our cities more physical activity-friendly? Parks, gardens, shared pathways, bike lanes, bike parking, urban design are all areas that require urgent attention in future planning. Let’s encourage people to be more physically active through our built environment. Let's allocate more money and resources to active transport rather than building or expanding roads and freeways. Let's get people out of cars and onto their feet, onto a bike or into public transport. The double effect here - better for our health and better for our environment.
Technology is a necessary evil these days. However, we must encourage our technological innovators to look at more ways to use technology to encourage us to be physically active and lead a healthy lifestyle. A minute example of this was the Pokémon Go craze that swept the world recently. It got children and families off their couches and out into the streets and parks. A great example of technology encouraging physical activity. More of this, please!
If you need more encouragement or ideas on how to motivate yourself and your children or just be healthy and physically active, then read my book when it comes out this year, 2017. You will be able to order a copy through this website. Watch this space for updates and more blogs.
Anyway, enough time sitting and reading. Time to get active. If you have a child, grab them too and take them with you.
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