After speaking with Gillian, the 60 Minute Kids Club leader, we agreed there is a definite problem with our youth today not being engaged the same way that we were engaged in physical activity growing up, be it through sport or just general play time. Here are some examples of things we've noticed that need to be addressed
1-Accessibility to sports venues, play areas and parks.
Growing up, I remember being able to get on my bike and ride to the park and play until 6 pm each and every day before dinner. The perception from parents now is that their kids have to be in kept in sight and monitored at all times, this leads to kids staying home and sitting in front of the TV or computer.
-If there are issues with letting your kids go, be the one to take them to the park or pool where they can play.
-Create groups for the kids, a buddy system or group buddy system. They will be more into playing if their friends are involved
2-Youth are distracted
It may be in the form of video games, TV, movies, and computers. But the emphasis has shifted from sport/exercise to a more sedentary form of entertainment. As technology improves, more kids have iphones, facebook accounts, and PS3's (soon to be PS4's) then ever before. Many would rather play their DS then go outside and swing a bat.
-Limit screen time. Look at what the 60 Minute Kids Club does. It puts a limit on screen and video time.
-Make outdoor/indoor play mandatory: 60 minutes a day, every single day
-Play with your kids. Yes get off your ass and do it. Plan around it.
-Parents, be active yourself. Lead by example. If they see you doing it they'll be likely to want to join.
3-Not challenged to be better physically/mentally
As school programs continue to cut and restrict physical activity in classes, youth are not given the opportunity to develop physically. More and more emphasis is put on the class room and studies, while exercise and physical activity are forgotten, which is a huge mistake. Many things I've learned in my life have been learned through sport and taught by people who wanted me to get better (coaches). Can you imagine what your coach would do if you showed up late for football practice, or let down your team if you were lazy and took a play off? Sport teaches us about discipline, accountability, structure, perseverance, determination, etc (I can go on and on and on). As well, the camaraderie that is build between people participating in sport as they grow up together lasts forever. Many of my best friends in life I have met through sport.
-Teachers/parents get involved in programs like the 60 Minute Kids Club or enrol your kids in sports programs, training programs or even after school programs.
-Kids take the time out to thank your coaches and parents for the time and work they put into you. The majority of coaches do not get paid for their time and do it because they want to.
4-Eating is terrible
In our program at IFST we ask our athletes to keep routine food logs to address the issue of poor nutrition with today's youth. You would be shocked if you were to read what these kids eat on a daily and weekly basis. When we look at what kids are putting into their bodies and combine with with a general lack of physical activity, we can see why a big number of them are overweight. It is not entirely their fault as our society has made fast food and bad food cheap and easy to get. Yes we all lead busy lives and there is not always a lot of time in the day to prepare meals, but that does not mean our kid's nutrition needs to suffer, plan better in advance when you know you will be rushed so you don't have to hit the drive-thru..
-Parents lead by example.
-Clean out your fridge. Get rid of all bad foods. Start fresh.
-Change your diet before you try to change your kids.
5-Parents are too tired
I can't tell you how many times I have read our athlete's food logs that have them eating Tim Horton's or McDonald's breakfast sandwiches for their first, and most important meal of the day. This is not their fault but the fault of the parents for not putting adequate time into preparing the food for their kids to eat that day. Yes, it is way easier to stop off at Tim's and buy a meal than it is to prep it the night before or get up and make it that day, but over time this is leading to more and more overweight and obese children.
-Ok parents, your child's nutrition is your responsibility so let's make it happen.
-Prep meals the night before.
-Grocery shop for the week. Make healthy meals ahead of time for lunches and dinners.
6-Youth and Parents are not educated
How many parents realize that it is almost better to skip your morning meal then to buy an egg McMuffin in the morning? Parents are not always educated on nutrition (yes I'm now defending the parents). Eating healthy can be very costly, that same apple that costs 25 cents at Safeway cost $1 at Choices when it is grown organically. It's easier to feed a family at Taco Bell for 12 bucks than it is to get fresh meat and veggies from the butcher and farm and then cook them.
-Research to learn more. There are many specific books on children's health and nutrition that will provide a good start.
-Try "The Silver Spoon" by Amanda Grant or "The Whole Family Cookbook" by Michelle Stern