As I crouched down with the group of boisterous 3 and 4 year olds, I began to tell the story about a team of brave explorers who would be travelling into the deep, dark jungle, leaping across crocodile infested rivers, jumping across creepy crawlies, climbing mountains, until we would find an area where we could play our games with the mummies and daddies. The group of children fell silent, eyes widened and jaws dropped, and the extremely excited ten little explorers were ready to go.
Thirty minutes later, following a lot of running, jumping, skipping, hopping, galloping, and various other physical movements, the ten explorers were red cheeked, wearing great big smiles, and being followed by some rather tired parents! Our trip into the children’s imagination was essential to encourage them to be active. It inspired the parents to ‘play’ with their children, and most importantly, it kept everything that ActivKids wanted to achieve child friendly.
Children are inspired by adults or characters that can help them retain the basics of childhood: having fun, learning and playing. These have to be the areas that adults use to inspire kids to ‘buy into’ fitness and physical activity. However, this idea can also prove to be contentious when promoting other products or ideas to our children.
Earlier this month 550 healthcare workers wrote to McDonald's asking it to stop marketing to children, in particular using methods such as toys and the clown. The following day, McDonald’s Chief Executive Jim Skinner told the shareholders meeting that ‘Ronald McDonald is going nowhere’ (Source: www.bbc.co.uk)
But is Ronald McDonald really the source of all childhood obesity and children’s health problems? Surely it’s the adult that repeatedly purchases fast food for a child who is responsible, or the adult who doesn’t allow a child to enjoy a balanced, nutritious diet that is the problem?
A recent study revealed that there has been a significant deterioration in children’s physical fitness and strength over the past ten years (Source: www.netmums.com).
Dr. Gavin Sandercock, co-author of the study said, “We have become fixated in the UK on the visual problem of fatness at the cost of the problem of ‘unfitness'. It’s a difficult message to get across because you can’t see ‘unfitness’, whereas you can clearly see obesity. But being fit neatly cancels out the risks of being fat, and what you find in schools is that 20 to 30 per cent of fat children are perfectly fit — they are just very big.”
We need to learn what children ‘buy into’ so that we can inspire any necessary fitness and physical activity. We need to learn from Ronald McDonald rather than chastise him and actually inspire children at their level. Physical activity and fitness can be done this way. ActivKids inspire children with easy to understand programmes, fantastic delivery skills, and incentives to make kids want to come back.
Let’s look at the solutions and take responsibility to solve the problems, and not place the blame at the feet of clowns!
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