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Childhood Health & Wellness How you can make a difference

It would seem the reality of childhood obesity is easy to see and quick to solve. Simply have kids eat less and exercise more, right? Well, yes and no. Teachers and parents can force kids into eating apples over pizza and taking playtime outside, but what happens when kids make the decisions?

The reality of childhood obesity begins with the reality that mom and dad aren’t always around to regulate eating and exercise. If we want to see lasting change happen, then we need to equip kids with the education, resources and, most importantly, the motivation to lead healthier lives for themselves.

It will probably come as no surprise to read that children do not get motivated by being ordered, threatened or scolded. If anything, these methods only worsen the situation. Rather, the tried and true method, according to all of us at Get Movin’, is to educate kids through fun activities in a group setting and to involve them in experiences that promote health and wellness. Key word: Experiences.

A Healthy Dose of Peer Influence

Kids between 2 and 5 are at home more, where mom and dad can have a greater influence on their eating habits and activity level. But once kids hit school, that parental influence becomes increasingly replaced by peer influence.

Put a group of 7 year olds in a room with a bag of chips and a bowl of apples and we can all guess which snack will be consumed by the time you come back. But, is this because the chips are tastier or because everyone else is doing it?

Peer pressure is, understandably, a negative phrase, so we like to think of its opposite as peer influence: when kids are encouraged by each other for a positive cause. When a child sees his or her friends leading healthy lifestyles, peer influence can be the trigger that kicks off the cure to childhood obesity.

Introducing schools to a program that promotes health and wellness in a fun, unifying way shows kids that exercising and eating right are not simply what parents and teachers want, but what their friends want as well.

Be A Part of the Change

And now for the part you’ve been reading for: how to be a part of the change from a reality of childhood obesity to childhood well-being. Remember that keyword from the beginning? Experiences, coupled with fun education, are the key to turning the tide against childhood obesity.

Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a member of a PTO/PTA, or simply a concerned community member, you can be a part of this change.

It begins with education. But, not the boring “do this, don’t do that” kind of education. At Get Movin’, part of what we stress with event-based fundraising is to incorporate health and wellness education, done the fun (and effective!) way. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up over the years:

  • Teach in Groups. If kids learn the same lessons at once, then they begin to put them into action together and hold each other accountable.
  • Get Kids Involved. In our assemblies, we often ask kids to shout back answers to questions regarding details of the fundraiser and lessons they’ve learned about health and wellness. This way, it sticks with them rather than being forgotten the minute they move onto the next activity.
  • Keep it Fun. This is the most important part. Keeping it fun can mean making a game out of the lesson, creating an exciting atmosphere, or adding in some friendly competition (i.e., who can win in a “what’s healthier?” quiz about snack foods).

Teaching in groups, getting kids involved and keeping it fun is all for one purpose: so the teaching is memorable and the lessons are fresh in their minds each time they recall the experience.

Part of the success schools have had from teaming up with The Get Movin’ Crew for their fundraising efforts is the level of involvement shown by the student body. Why? Because we don’t ask kids to go peddle junk food door-to-door, we ask them to share an experience with their friends. Athon fundraisers include:

  • A Fun Atmosphere. We’re talking music, cheers, bright colors, dancing and moving for a cause! Simply providing a fun atmosphere can make any experience memorable.
  • A Balance of Unity & Competition. Fun Runs and other athon events include the entire student body, but there are groups of grades and classes working as teams. Everyone is working toward a healthy cause that supports the school, but there is also friendly competition during the run that keeps students motivated as teams and as individuals.
  • Support. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that healthy experiences are for kids alone. The more you’re involved the more the kids get involved. For Fun Runs and other athons, this means cheering from the sidelines, waiting at the finish line, and continuing the health education at home.

If you want to be involved in changing the reality of childhood obesity, your job as an adult is to lead by example, educate in fun ways, and create the experiences that will leave lasting impressions.

Let's Get Movin'

Get More Information About Get Movin'

If you like what you read here, and you want further information about Get Movin’ program, we invite you to check out our services to see how we can be involved in bringing change to your school.

Spread the Word

We also invite you to follow us on Facebook for more updates on the fight against childhood obesity and what Get Movin' is doing to spread fun education and healthy experiences all across the U.S. Social media is great way to spread the word about ways everyone can be involved in making a change for our youth.

Further Resources

Here are some helpful links we've gathered from around the web for more ways you can be a part of the healthy eating change at home:

  1. Better Beverage Finder
  2. Healthy Recipe Finder
  3. Face the Fats
  4. Nutrition Quizzes
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Created with images by Pexels - "active adolescent affection" • Myles Tan - "untitled image" • Anna Samoylova - "untitled image"