Play and exercise: Get out there
September 13, 2010
by Editorial Board
The Florida-Times Union
In order for kids to get healthy, they must get away from the television and onto the playgrounds more.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, Nickelodeon, the children's network, will make that point by stopping its programming between noon and 3 p.m and urge its viewers to go out and play.
It is billing that Saturday as its Worldwide Day of Play.
And children who wind up outdoors on that day will find plenty to do in Jacksonville.
According to information from the city's Department of Recreation and Community Services, children who get out to Clanzel T. Brown Park that day can participate in activities such as tug-of-war and relay races with Jacksonville Jaguars players, as well as nutrition demonstrations and Nickelodeon's iconic Slime!
Also, the ROAR, Jaxson de Ville and the Jacksonville Jaguars D-Line also will be on hand. Children will be able to compete for prizes.
Hyping the importance of play is especially important for young people.
Battle against obesity
According to a recent report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, childhood obesity rates are growing faster than those of adults, and nearly a third of all children and teenagers are overweight.
The problem is especially bad here in Jacksonville, where 70 percent of students score below average on the President's Physical Fitness Assessment Test, and nearly 1 in 4 are overweight or obese.
Of course, there are many reasons for that.
In poorer communities, the lack of accessible, nutritious foods and concerns about safety contribute to children being stuck indoors and feasting on fatty foods in front of the television.
In more fortunate neighborhoods, access to computers and electronic games contribute to more affluent children shunning outdoor play.
But through community support and public awareness, those issues can be dealt with.
That's why Worldwide Day of Play is a good thing.
While it will give children the opportunity to see the Jaguars and to win prizes, the biggest prize they'll win will be an enhanced awareness of what it takes to be a healthier adult - just by going outside to play.
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