September 10th, 2014
One of the many goals of the Wellness Initiative is to provide recreation and parks departments with information and tools to help community members implement a healthy and active lifestyle. Through my experiences I have developed a particular interest in supporting efforts in the youth wellness sector. Coincidentally enough, September has been declared National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month by Barack Obama, President of the United States of America. According to President Obama’s proclamation, childhood obesity is one of the most urgent health issues we face in the United States. Statistics have shown that nearly one in three children are overweight or obese, which directly correlate with immediate and long-term health issues such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and asthma.
So, how did we end up here? According to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move!! Initiative, this generation has experienced lifestyle changes that were not present before. Children no longer walk to school or parks, but take various modes of transportation. Due to parents becoming busier, children have adjusted to the comfort of staying inside their homes. Children now spend an average of 7.5 hours in a SINGLE day using entertainment media such as gaming systems, television and the internet. Healthy eating habits in homes and school systems have been replaced with fast food, along with uncontrolled increased portion sizes. There has been a decline in providing nutritional value in a child’s diet. America is now eating 31% more calories than we were forty years ago. On average, American’s eat fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970. That is a whole lot of sugar! (Source: Let’s Move!)
What is the next step and how can we, as community leaders, make a difference? Let’s Move! is a creditable resource for how to foster healthier life decisions when it comes to physical activity and eating habits. To share some ideas from the Let’s Move initiative, here are 3 simple steps to help implement wellness information among your own community.
The site will expand more on each of these steps:
1.) Lead: Establish that wellness is a priority for your organization and provide leadership through consistent messaging.
2.) Organize: Identify a Wellness Ambassador and direct them to create and lead a Wellness Council.
3.) Take Action: Empower your community’s Wellness Ambassador to organize a Wellness Council.
Additionally, this past year the NCRPA board endorsed a position statement supporting the promotion healthy foods as part of youth sports. The statement emphasized that organizations should do everything possible to provide access to healthy foods and beverages in all aspects of the youth sport and athletics experience including before, during and after practices and games, at concessions and through fundraising efforts. Such commitment and practice provides a clear message that a healthy diet is consistent with good health and optimal athletic performance.
Remember, it is a combined effort to help promote and establish environments that support healthy life choices. Let’s band together during the month of September to provide necessary steps to battle and increase awareness of childhood obesity across North Carolina. For more information please visit NCRPA's Wellness Initiative Homepage.
Until next week,
Graduate Assistant, NC Recreation & Park Association
883 Washington St, Raleigh, NC 27605