Spring is around the corner.
This past week Facebook has been full of pictures of people finally getting outdoors to get some much needed sunshine.
I also noticed the parade of dogs and people and little kids marching to my neighborhood park.
Which brings me to the topic of “little walkers”.
This Spring in Chicago, over 300 playlots in area parks, (Brooks Park included) will get a makeover. The playlot renovation represents a commitment the City of Chicago is making to it’s youngest citizens. The theme “Chicago Plays” will hopefully inspire families and their children to get out of the house and off of the couch to get outdoors in their neighborhoods.
Currently in the United States, one in four children start kindergarten overweight. What a sad statistic for our country.
This comes at a time when U.S news and World Report warns that “children who start kindergarten overweight are four times as likely to become obese by eighth grade”.
On the upside, the article also says families can be an intervention.
Adult family members have tremendous influence and can be role models when it comes to showing kids what an active lifestyle looks like. Participating in a walk with them shares the simple joy of an uncomplicated movement. Walking to the park, strolling for a fro-yo or just going around the block, reinforces the importance of movement in their daily life and connects it to a pleasant memory. Think about it, the adult family member is passing down a valuable lifestyle behavior to the next generation. There may be no control over what genes get passed on, but we certainly can shape and effect movement patterns in children.
We don’t have to be Olympic athletes, or cross-fit fanatics to influence young people to value activity. Just knowing we have the power to influence and encourage movement in our youth by our example is a worthwhile calling. Walking with kids is a great family activity. It’s simple, it doesn’t cost anything and all one has to do is step out the front door. Setting aside an hour or so each day to get outside with a “little walker” can be a relaxing and wondrous experience. From watching them discover their shadow for the first time to seeing them find joy in a treasure they find laying on the ground, the wonder of life can be seen through a new pair of eyes.
So, here is a “shout out” to all the family members who are committed (or thinking about committing) to the “little walkers” in their life. Keep up the good work! And just remember – those “little walkers” will have memories of a you as a youthful you, because you are out there with them, no matter what your age!