It is no secret that Americans are sedentary and overweight, and that obesity is a huge problem (no pun intended) in our country. Michelle Obama has started a program called “Let’s Move” that tries to teach kids good exercise and eating habits, which is great. But their PSA’s are beyond horrible, and I think they need to adjust their approach. For example:
“Hey Moms, it’s up to you to get your kids moving, so how about lying to them and running them all over the house in search of something that is sitting on the counter next to you?” Wow, that’s a great way to inspire trust, confidence and get your kid physically fit! The other one I hate shows boys playing a video game when suddenly the power in the house goes out. The boys look at each other with, “Wow, that was weird” expressions on their faces, and then decide to go play basketball. Mom is then shown flipping the fuse back on and saying, “It works every time,” which kind of makes me want to throw things at her. So the only way to get your kids out of the house is to repeatedly fake a blackout? Which the kids never question? Again the message is, “Deceive the kids to get them moving. It’s fun!”
Apparently “Let’s Move” is a directive that only applies to kids after school or on weekends, and is solely the responsibility of the parents. Which is why I guess it doesn’t strike anyone as ironic that the National Association for Sport and P.E. has outlawed the playing of Duck, Duck, Goose at school because it “eliminates kids”. Hmm, if memory serves, it also requires you to RUN. Ooooh, but running is so dangerous! So dangerous, in fact, that running was banned at the playground of one elementary school in Broward County Florida on the advice of their lawyers, and another school in Santa Monica CA has banned the game of ‘tag’. (To be fair, not because of the running but because being ‘it’ means you’re a victim, which can lead to low self-esteem. Which is a much better reason for banning a game. Can you hear me screaming and ripping my hair out?)
So on the one hand, parents are being encouraged to come up with ‘creative’ (code for ‘deceptive’) ways to get their kids moving, and on the other hand, tried and true kid activities like tag are being banned for reasons so ridiculous it is beyond belief.
How about just letting kids play at recess? Or after school in a park or playground? 90% of kids, if left to their own devices on a playground, will come up with a game that requires some sort of physical activity. (That is not a statistic I can back up, but based on my own experiences at playgrounds with my kids, I’d say it’s about right.) Who needs gimmicks? When we go to Riverside Park on Wednesdays, we don’t tell the kids what to do. We just let them loose. They play tag or run up and down the huge granite outcroppings and are NEVER ready to leave, no matter how long we are there.
It’s great to teach people about healthy eating habits and the benefits of exercise and staying fit. But insinuating that parents need to constantly come up with ways to move their kids around, and then show examples where the parents are lying to the kids to achieve that goal? Especially when the most ‘active’ games are being banned in schools? Misguided and wrong, to say the least.
Here’s Lenore Skenazy’s take on the issue: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/whats-wrong-with-this-lets-move-ad/