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As a military family, we love being stationed here in Colorado. I sometimes think that this has to be one of the most beautiful states in the country, and we hope we never have to leave. With everything Colorado has to offer, it is considered one of the healthiest states in the nation. And while the adults here are some of the fittest in the whole country, the kids are a completely different story.
Did you know? Colorado kids rank 24th out of 50 states for health and physical activity, leading to many having childhood obesity.
As a mom to two kids here in Colorado, this is not okay. That is why I am doing my part for the No More 24 Campaign which wants to help increase awareness to the issue of childhood obesity in our communities and our schools.
With a son going into first grade this year, there are so many things I see in the schools that could be changed to help kids get more active. Here are just a few.
Colorado Schools Can Fight Childhood Obesity by…
1. Having Students Take Breaks Between Tasks.
Kids sit for long periods of time in school. Just like adults, they need to get up, stretch and take a break in order to focus better.
“Research has found that when kids get enough exercise, their learning skills, attitude and behavior at school improve.”
Teachers could incorporate sensory or activity breaks to help break up their kid’s day. Some activities could include:
- Jumping Jacks
- Hopping on One Foot
- Taking a Short Walk
- Kid’s Yoga Stretches
- Dance Break
- “Call out ‘Stand for five!’ – letting kids know that they must work standing up for five minutes.” – Inspired Tree House
2. Having More Recess or Longer Recesses.
When I was a kid, I remember we always had at least two recesses – sometimes even three. That wasn’t including the P.E. either. Sometimes I feel as though we had it better than our kids do. Yes, kids need to learn, but they also need to have more physical activity. Having children sit all day with little to no breaks of exercise in-between can and will lead to childhood obesity.
3. Doing P.E. More Than Once Per Week.
Growing, up we had P.E. three times per week. I remember looking forward to getting outside and getting to exercise or play a sport in the fresh air and sunshine. Some of these times playing and exercising with friends are still some of my fondest memories. Schools nowadays only have P.E. once per week and that is not nearly enough!
Did You Know? Colorado is one of only four states where physical education is not a required part of the state’s commitment to health.
To me, this is incredibly sad. Why shouldn’t physical education be included? I can’t think of a single reason why this isn’t as important or even more important than classroom education.
“Less than half of all Colorado middle school students attend PE five days a week, and nearly a third of Colorado middle schoolers don’t play sports outside of school.”
4. Giving Kids More Time for Eating a Healthy Lunch.
At my son’s school, he is not given nearly enough time to eat lunch. I believe they only give him 10-15 minutes and he always tells me he couldn’t finish because he didn’t have enough time. If you’re like me, you probably pack mostly healthy foods for your child’s lunch, with the occasional dessert or treat. Without little time to eat, my son is picking the less healthy foods to eat first and not getting a chance to eat the fruit and other healthy foods I pack.
This is not okay! Kids need more time to eat and digest their food. They need time to pick healthy choices, not just what’s in front of them.
5. Planning Field Trips that Incorporate Physical Activities.
Field trips are supposed to be fun and educational, but why can’t they be physical too? Schools should plan field trips such as hiking, ice skating or skiing, walking around the zoo, or going on a scavenger hunt. There are plenty of places and things to do for field trips that incorporate physical activities.
I remember as a kid, one of my most favorite field trips was the time we hiked a mountain. It was an easy trail since we were kids and it took about 45 minutes to an hour, but we all had so much fun. We picnicked at the top and then took the hike back down. You better believe we all slept well that night!
6. Offering or Having Students Participate in Running Programs.
At my son’s school, they have several running programs. I found out about the first last year when they did something called a “Fun Run” to raise money for the school. They had the students (and parents) ask people to donate money per lap for each child. On the day of the run, students ran as many laps as they could. The more laps, the more money was raised for the school.
My son had a BLAST. I have never seen him happier than when he was running and he ended up running the most laps in his Kindergarten class (three miles worth)!
I loved this idea, because not only did it help raise money for the school, but it got all the students out there running laps and getting exercise. It was fun and parents and family members enjoyed watching and cheering.
Other school running programs could include:
- Cross-Country Running
- Track and Field
What About YOU? What barriers do you see at your child’s school that may contribute to childhood obesity? Does your school incorporate any of the above ideas?
Are you in? If so, join me in signing the pledge to end childhood obesity at the No More 24 campaign website. Colorado kids are too important to let this opportunity for awareness go by. Remember: Childhood obesity ends with you.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of LiveWell Colorado. The opinions and text are all mine.