Let Kids Be Active Outside

By Lina Younes

Recently my daughter’s elementary school started a program to encourage students to increase their physical activities outdoors. The program entitled “Fun, Fit and Grow” is largely modeled after the First Lady’s Initiative, Let’s Move. The main objective is to promote healthy bodies and a lifetime full of fun and fitness. To be successful, the school is asking students to keep a log of their daily activities outside of the school in order to earn points for their class. Students are encouraged to elicit the participation of their family members in the program to earn additional points. Parents have to sign the log weekly to attest that the recorded hours of activities for children and family members are accurate.

It was interesting to see that the guidelines clearly state that virtual games are not allowed as a substitute for physical activities and sports. While technology is helping many to get up and move through numerous interactive games, there is no doubt that electronic gadgets are not the ideal replacement for a brisk walk outdoors.

So, what did we identify as our family outdoor activity?  Well, first, we took a family walk around the neighborhood. As our second activity, we decided to rake leaves. It was listed as one of the recommended activities and we definitely had a good supply of leaves all over the yard. So, through our joint effort, we got some exercise, clean up around the yard, and had fun.  Furthermore, eliminating the dead leaves from the lawn also has an environmental benefit.  It allows the lawn to “breathe” plus it enables sunlight, nutrients and water to revitalize the grass and their root systems.  What did we do with the raked leaves?  Well, we made a leaf pile for composting.  I say it was a win-win for all.  I guess we have our work cut out for us for next weekend.  There is still a good supply still on the trees that will need to be raked soon.

What do you do to enjoy a beautiful fall day? We would like to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as acting associate director for environmental education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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