A friend recently said to me – as he’s listing the attributes of a beach house he’s selling and commenting on the great family neighbourhood – that he sees kids riding their bikes to the pool with a towel wrapped around their neck. He went on to say that “you never see that anymore”, and he’s right. It’s precisely this lack of ‘active transportation’, among other inactive habits, that scored Canada a D grade when compared to fifteen other nations around the word in a recent report card published by Active Healthy Kids Canada at the Global Summit on the Physical Activity of Children held in Toronto just last month. What happened? Surely our neighbourhoods are not so dangerous that we must keep our children in our sights at all times. The freedom to explore and take chances on their own is what teaches children to manage risk as they get older. But the possibility of some bumps and bruises on their solo outings is not the biggest risk.
The findings of Active Healthy Kids Canada points to another risk, a growing risk, that of inactivity. Inactivity that has social developmental consequences as well as health issues; obesity, diabetes, you name them.
Jump teaches the FUNdamentals of Physical Literacy up to 8 years old in order to reduce both of these risks. We’re certainly not advocating that our student body hop on their bikes and head for the pool – it’s too soon – but teaching children how to move their bodies safely is the first step. Becoming physically literate means children will be less likely to get hurt, and more likely to be active in everyday life.
But what about after Jump? What do we need to do as parents to curb and reverse this trend of inactivity? Structured activities need to be balanced with outdoor free play, and active transport is a great place to start.
Talking to a mother of kids that are now in their 30’s, she said her kids would disappear on their bikes with sandwiches in a backpack for most of the day in the summer. “I never worried about whether they would come back; they came back when they were hungry”. Early teens now are likely to have a cell phone with them, so is it less dangerous now than it was then? When would you lets your kids ride out with siblings and friends?
Our kids are growing up fast and we need to start to think about how we can improve our grade – up our ‘active transportation’ score. Kids need one hour of physical exercise a day – how do you plan on achieving that for your little one in the years to come? Let’s find a way to keeps kids active for life.
Send us an email with your thoughts – we’d love to hear and share them!
Thank you Participaction for the image, and tips on cycling with the whole family.