Think back to a late spring day when you were a child. Remember when you couldn’t wait to escape outside to play after finishing your homework and any household chores your parents charged you to do?
Long before the terms “BMI” and “trans fat” were part of the lexicon, kids would run out to the backyard or local playground to meet up with friends for a game of tag, stealing bases or “king of the hill.” When they got thirsty, they’d drink water out of the garden hose, and take turns squirting each other to cool off. They’d jump, run and chase around till dusk fell, reluctantly traipsing home to eat dinner, take a warm bath and maybe read a chapter or two of a favorite book. They’d tumble into bed and fall asleep before their heads hit the pillow.
In an ideal world, kids would still look forward to physical activity. Recess would be the best part of the school day. Exercise wouldn’t be something to dread, but a natural, joyful and cherished part of every day.
In today’s age of video games, cell phones and computers, physical activity has taken a back seat. Now, the country is facing a childhood obesity problem so severe that First Lady Michelle Obama has chosen to focus on it as one of her official causes.
Ideas abound as to how to tackle the issue. But with budget cuts squeezing physical education classes and even recess out of the school schedule, what can be done?
Some, like the editors at Slate.com, don’t think that should be a rhetorical question. Recently, they launched a project to ask for real solutions:
“Whether you’re a policymaker, nutritionist, teacher, parent, or even a child, we’re willing to bet you have creative, unexpected ideas that will help address obesity in America’s youth.”
They’re publishing people’s ideas online, asking readers to vote and comment, and they plan to announce the winning idea soon.
With one day left in the project, they’ve already received more than 300 ideas. One thoughtful writer said we simply must find a way to get children to think of exercise as playtime once again.
What’s your idea?