Some of you may recall a few months ago when we asked families to get involved in our ‘Greenway Challenge’. Back then we were working towards achieving our Department of Public Health: Healthy Outcomes Certificate, which we received in March. We wanted to encourage more families to be active and use the local Greenway by walking or cycling along it.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines 2011 recommends that children under 5 years old need at least 3 hours of active play each day. Over 5 year olds need at least 60 minutes of moderate to active movement (heart rate up but can still talk), plus muscle and bone growth activity e.g. swimming, martial arts, yoga. Also, adults require a minimum of 30 minutes activity 5 times per week, plus muscle strengthening 2 times per week. Everyone needs to minimise their time spent sedentary. This includes babies not being strapped in to bouncers etc as they need to be challenged to move not restrained.
Being active is important for maintaining good health. This doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or going swimming once a week, it means following a healthy lifestyle and developing healthy habits. As the ‘Start Active Stay Active’ campaign name suggests, the idea is that children who develop healthy habits at a young age are more likely to continue those habits in later life.
You will hopefully see some questionnaires being sent home with your children. We want to collect information regarding how our families travel to and from Free Rangers, with the hope that we can encourage more families to walk or cycle. We understand that for some families this is not possible due to the distance between home and Free Rangers. However, a possibility could be the idea of ‘Park and Stride’, where you park down the road and walk the rest of the way. Some families may be encouraged to think about walking to a local shop, park or to visit friends, instead of using the car. Our aim is to promote walking (or cycling) instead of using the car, where possible, to help children to acquire healthy ideas and habits.
Safety is often a concern as there are so many vehicles around. Many children today are missing out on learning about road safety because they are driven to all of their destinations. Regular walking for short distances with your children gives a great opportunity to teach them about road safety. We know that real life experiences have far greater impact on learning than by simply talking about potential scenarios. Stop, look and listen is a key phrase to teach children when learning to cross the road. Adults are great role models not only for promoting being safe but also for showing children how to be healthy and develop healthy habits.