TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY

I grew up in a time where kids had a Physical Education class at school that taught us exercises, stretching, sports, and (although I wasn’t aware as a kid) life skills. After school, we’d head to the park or somebody’s street to meet up with random kids. There we’d play even more sports and often didn’t come home until the street lights went on. Then we high-tailed it because we knew the rules! Times sure have changed and so has the health of today’s kids.

SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO CUT PE

These days some schools have cut Physical Education entirely due to budget cuts. They may still have a time during the day that they take kids outside, but often it’s a Science or English teacher that stands there to supervise while kids just sit around or try to play games without being given any direction. After school, they go home to an empty house and play video games until their parents get home from work.

KIDS ARE GIVEN TOO MANY CORRECTIONS AND DIRECTIONS

From the moment kids get up, all day during school and when the parents arrive home at night, kids are given directions or corrections right up until they go to bed:  Do your homework, clean up your room, brush your teeth, go to bed. When they wake up it starts again: Get up, eat breakfast, put your bowl in the sink, brush your teeth, etc. When do they get outside to play with other kids? When do they get exercise and learn the fundamentals of sports? And when do they learn all those valuable life lessons that kids need to learn at an early age, like teamwork, overcoming challenges, learning to think for yourself, and adaptation?

KIDS NEED TO PLAY

How is it that the choice to cut Physical Education from schools is even happening? In a changing world where kids all have cell phones and computers and continue to gain more and more weight every year, does no one see what is happening? Kids no longer play outdoors! They sit in one place and click themselves into obesity. To make matters worse- we have a pandemic! Kids were forced to stay home- they sat on their computers for even longer amounts of time with distance learning. We are in a major crisis! Our children are suffering from childhood obesity, ADHD, social anxiety, diabetes, and more. These challenges will cause lifelong problems as they carry into their teenage and adult years. As a nation, we are way too smart, too let this happen- but it is! The obesity numbers continue to grow year after year.

OUR KIDS ARE SUFFERING EVEN MORE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC

The pandemic has made it even more challenging for schools with even more budget constraints. Funds needed to be allocated to make the schools clean and safe so kids could return. But don’t they see the emotional stress these kids have endured? Don’t they know exercise reduces stress, reduces feelings of anxiety and depression, improves your memory, and of course allows you to maintain a healthy weight!? Don’t schools see if they continue to cut exercise, they really are damaging our kid’s ability to learn and retain math and English?

I speak from over 3 decades of experience working with children. I’ve seen the effect the pandemic has had on our children at our camps. They’ve had a more difficult time with their attention spans, they are more disruptive, and they have lower energy levels. I think we are not thinking enough about the mental and psychological health of our children. We simply must return to PE to schools.

Until these decision-makers come to their senses, we hope to see your kids at one of our programs. Or hey- Just please get your kids off the couch and tell them to “GO PLAY!” Their lives, their futures depend on it.

#PlayHardHaveFun,

Aaron Locks

THE CDC

Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, putting children and adolescents at risk for poor health. Obesity prevalence among children and adolescents is still too high.

For children and adolescents aged 2-19 years in 2017-2018:

The prevalence of obesity was 19.3% and affected about 14.4 million children and adolescents.
Obesity prevalence was 13.4% among 2- to 5-year-olds, 20.3% among 6- to 11-year-olds, and 21.2% among 12- to 19-year-olds. Childhood obesity is also more common among certain populations.
Obesity prevalence was 25.6% among Hispanic children, 24.2% among non-Hispanic Black children, 16.1% among non-Hispanic White children, and 8.7% among non-Hispanic Asian children.

The BMJ Reports:

Obesity in US children increased at an unprecedented rate during the pandemic

The proportion of US children who are overweight or obese, which has climbed steadily for years, surged to unprecedented levels during the pandemic, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

The proportion of US children who are overweight or obese, which has climbed steadily for years, surged to unprecedented levels during the pandemic, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1

Among a cohort of 432 302 people aged 2-19 years, the rate of body mass index (BMI) increase roughly doubled during the pandemic compared with the period preceding it. The greatest increases were seen in children aged 6-11 and in those already overweight before the pandemic.

The national weight gain will surprise few pediatricians, who have been warning since the pandemic began of the likely effects of reduced physical activity and increased screen time. But the rate of change is striking. The monthly rate of BMI increase nearly doubled, to 1.93 times its pre-pandemic rate. The proportion of US children who are obese was rising by 0.07% a month before the pandemic, but by 0.37% a month—five times faster—after the virus appeared.

An estimated 22% of US children and teens were obese last August, up from 19% a year earlier. The data shows a “profound increase in weight gain for kids” that is “substantial and alarming,” Alyson Goodman, one of the study’s authors, told the Associated Press.

Before the pandemic, children who were a healthy weight were gaining an average of 1.55 kg a year. That rose to 2.45 kg during the pandemic. In those who were already moderately obese, weight gain rose from 2.95 kg a year to 5.45 kg after the pandemic began. In the severely obese, average annual weight gain went from 4 kg to 6.6 kg.

The CDC’s findings echo those of a study published last month using Kaiser Permanente data from southern California, that reported significantly increased weight gain among children and adolescents aged 5-17 years during the pandemic.