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How You Can Be Part of the Change

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 The Get Movin’ Crew (TGMC), 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

Rather than depress you with scary statistics about childhood obesity (check out the CDC if you’re interested) we want to kick off with an uplifting one: Federal health authorities have recently reported a 43% drop in the obesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade.

That’s certainly some good news, but what about the older age groups? 

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 The Get Movin’ Crew, part of our program we take to schools is 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. Remember the importance of peer influence? 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. And there’s that word again. 

realityofobesity

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. 

These are experiences for a cause, and they include:

  • A Fun Atmosphere. We’re talking music, cheers, bright colors, dancing and a big ole’ mascot called Movin’ Max. Simply providing a fun atmosphere can make any experience memorable.
  • A Balance of Unity & Competition. Our Fun Run 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, this means cheering from the sidelines, waiting at the finish line, and continuing the health education at home.

We can tell children why they need to be healthy, but allowing them to put those words into action is where the real learning comes in. 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. So, let’s get movin’ toward change.

Let's Get Movin'

Get More Information About TGMC
If you like what you read here, and you want further information about The Get Movin’ Crew programs, 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 TGMC 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: 

     Better Beverage Finder

     Healthy Recipe Finder

     Face the Fats

     Nutrition Quizzes

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