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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Dec 6, 2010

December 6, 2010

Girls Lack of Physical Activity Begins With the Way They Dress

I am very concerned with the sad physical condition of our youth, especially the girls' low levels of physical activity.  On April 27, 2010, Active Healthy Kids Canada reported they found that . For the fourth year in a row, Canadian kids received a failing grade for their levels of activity.

In this report three troubling facts came to my attention:
*5% of adolescent girls are getting their minimum 90 minutes daily exercise.
*In grade 6, 55% of boys and 53% of girls participate in school sports.
* By grade 12, 41% of boys and 27% of girls participate in school sports.

How can this physical activity crises be solved according to this report? 
 Michelle Brownrigg, CEO of Active Healthy Kids Canada, says:  “We have the opportunity to secure a healthier future for our young children by ensuring that policies mandate daily physical activities in schools and childcare facilities, investing in safe parks and play structures, and providing caregivers and educators with training and support to provide adequate physical activity opportunities to kids.”
Read more about this report on a previous post here

During my many years teaching, our school tried various ways to get our students ‘moving’. We tried ‘movement breaks’ in each our classrooms. We tried ‘daily physical activities ‘ in the gym with larger groups. Music was added to make exercising more fun. On warm days, classes took short, brisk walks or jogging runs in the sun.

We organized  sports like soccer, ball games and rope skipping activities during the noon break.  Older students volunteered to referee the younger students' games. Participating was emphasized more than winning to motivate all students to join.

The Home and School Association raised funds and our playgrounds were spruced up and new physical activity equipment was purchased. Parents transformed a wooded area to a safe playground with trees, paths, huge rocks and with your imagination and the APPROPRIATE clothes children could spend active noon breaks there.

Competitions with other schools were arranged. Our teams where sponsored by companies and uniforms were acquired to make our teams look COOL. Some teachers volunteered their noon breaks, after schools and weekends to monitor the practices and competitions.

This crucial dress problem is not as serious during scheduled physical education classes because there is a dress code for PE classes, and time to change. However I must bring to your attention the many notes from parents physical education teachers receive each day asking that their child, more than likely a girl, be exempt from classes for  many frivolous reasons.

Throughout each day, what all children need are quick movement breaks, the use of recess, noon or after school times to engage in physical activity that is fun and not organized.

Too many girls from preschool, to primary grades to graduation come to school decked in dangling jewelery and not at all dressed (clothes and shoes) to take part in any physical activity safely, comfortably or decently. Moreover, these girls are still wearing those inconvenient clothes for physical activities at home. Therefore, except for the hour or two of physical education at school a week, a girl’s daily routine is just sitting prettily on the sidelines.

So who is to blame for this F on the report card on physical activity for children and youth? I strongly believe it is not the schools. Like the expression: You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, I have coined a new one: You can lead a girl to the gym, but dressed in inappropriate shoes and clothes, you cannot make her exercise!

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