This month I attended the “I Am Moving, I Am Learning” (IMIL) Facilitator Training in San Jose, CA. As a play and physical activity specialist, I totally embrace the IMIL program. It is a proactive approach for addressing childhood obesity in Head Start children and one of the BEST models I’ve seen for implementing a literal “call to action” on a very serious issue impacting our country. The program is also consistent with the objectives of the First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. While at the training, I thought, “I am learning (and moving!) so much!” and I wanted to share a few of my ah-has with you:
• Our children inherit more than our genes. They inherit our lifestyles. We need to be healthy and consistent role models for physical activity and nutrition. We have the first generation of children who will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
• “Approximately one in five children are overweight or obese by the time they reach their sixth birthday...” (White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report to the President, May 2010.)
• As little as 10 minutes of physical activity (short bursts of moderate to vigorous physical activity) is beneficial to children and adults. It yields improvements in blood pressure, waist circumference, mood and attention span.
• Many children can be the “boss of their body” and “tell their muscles what to do.” In other words, they can self-regulate their movement behaviors and motor activity. We just need to provide the space, time and opportunities!
• There are many motor milestones (i.e., hopping, skipping, throwing, catching) in early childhood. We should make a career of celebrating early childhood milestones with children.
• We need to be intentional about how children play; we need to provide quality experiences facilitated by informed adults.
• Make physical activity FUN and children and adults will COME! (Plan and participate in the activities or games that you are facilitating.)
Physical activity and play is receiving a great amount of attention that we should all take to heart and body! Now, let’s get moving! Remember to keep checking back here to see the many games and activities that will be featured in this year’s Sharin’ with Sharron Blog on Movement, Play and Physical Activity!