By: Nick Kline
Active Schools Manager
I love to play! My wife often tells me that she has two kids. Little does she know, I take this as a compliment! Our three-year-old son is so much fun and I look forward to leaving work to play with him!
I don’t claim to be an expert on this topic. There are others out there with many more letters after their name than I have. One such expert is Dr. Stuart Brown, author of Play. He describes play as anything but trivial. It is a biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. We are designed by nature to flourish through play. Dr. Brown explains why play is essential to our social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, ability to problem solve and more.
I promised myself that when I thought of the topic for this blog, I would not approach it from a pessimistic perspective. I am not going to quote the statistics that highlight the lack of physical activity children are receiving and the negative impact on their health and wellness.
Rather, my focus is to inspire you to play more yourself. My belief is that if adults spent less time on their screens, the impact would be contagious. Families with active parents often have active children. If you are not a parent, you can still be a role model. The next time you supervise recess, join in and play with the students. The next time you are at the playground, climb up and use the slide. The next time you are going for a walk, invite your neighbor, friend, or family member.
Other than making activity contagious and helping it spread, here are some other ways you can make movement a habit throughout the month of May and beyond. First, participate in “Play All May!” It is super easy to sign up and it is totally FREE. The intent is to promote all forms of physical activity. Play All May provides both individuals (children and adults) and groups (schools, families, and communities) with a variety of ideas to be physically active and “play”! EVERYONE from across the country and around the world can join in.
Second, recognize that May is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. This proclamation was signed by President Biden in 2021 to help make daily physical activity a priority, to support efforts to increase access to sports opportunities in their communities, and to pursue physical fitness as an essential part of healthy living. Physical activity is one of the best tools we have to help combat chronic diseases experienced by over half of all Americans. Use the month of May to not only incorporate more movement in your day, but also as an opportunity to encourage others to be physically active at school and at home. Here is a link with just a few ideas from Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK).
Finally, there are two more campaigns in the month of May that you should be aware of. One is National Physical Education and Sport Week and the other is Employee Wellness Week. Both are organized by SHAPE America and supported by Active Schools. National Physical Education and Sport Week is May 2-8 and gives everyone a chance to celebrate the importance of PE, health, and sport. Please make it a point to thank the teachers and coaches that you know for the positive impact they have on our youth. Additionally, this year the first-ever Employee Wellness Week which will be celebrated from May 23-27. This inaugural event will give adults suggestions for infusing healthy habits for mind and body.
To close, I wanted to share a link to a fun one-minute video that puts everything in perspective. Use the month of May to find ways to be physically active. Fifty years from now, I promise that you will not regret spending less time behind a screen and more time outdoors. Nor will you be sorry for spending more time with friends and family. Let loose, have fun, and find more ways to PLAY!