While I appreciate what author Mark Fenton discusses in his article Community Design and Policies for Free-Range Children: Creating Environments That Support Routine Physical Activity, I also like what is happening at a more national level with First Lady Michelle Obama.
Obama's effort is to to unite her Let’s Move initiative with the Campaign for Healthy Kid's Faith United to End Childhood Obesity.
This joint campaign is calling for 1,000 individual and group faith leaders to engage the target groups of the Let’s Move initiative. They are parents, children, community officials and local leaders, chefs, schools, caregivers and now faith leaders.
Mrs. Obama was quoted saying,
“Each of us have a role to play in solving the problem of childhood obesity, and faith leaders are uniquely positioned to build healthy congregations and communities for our kids. Our faith communities don’t only care for children’s spiritual health but also for their emotional and physical health. I hope this commitment challenges more of our organizations and congregations to do what they do best: inspire and empower people to make meaningful changes in their lives.”
On the Let’s Move website there are lots of suggestions and strategies for engaging our children in physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
For example, there are some easy suggestions for parents to promote health in the home such as having a fresh bowl of fruit in sight for snacks and taking a walk after dinner. These may seem like simple ideas, but modeling healthy behavior goes a long way.
Another idea which could be incorporated in schools or organizations is to create a health advisory council which would promote healthy behaviors at school or could be adapted in the work place and faith-based organizations.
The idea of raising “free-range” kids is a complicated issue because the way our society is going, fear of child predators, inaccessibility to outdoor parks and forests, video games and TV are keeping our kids indoors. It’s also easy to see all the barriers and just give up.
That is what I really like about the Campaign for Healthy Kid's Faith United to End Childhood Obesity, and the Let’s Move initiative: It’s positive and strategic. We can’t necessarily eliminate all of the barriers to kids getting physical activity, but we can make choices to overcome those barriers and help with the nationwide effort to reduce childhood obesity.