By replacing sedentary time watching television or on the computer with active play, parents and children can engage in fun, active play together. Basic skills such as running, climbing, throwing, catching and kicking don't just happen. The early years are the best time to develop these motor skills in a non-competitive environment.
Sherry Demeterco: Over the last 25 years, the prevalence of overweight and obese children and adolescents has risen, with the most substantial increase is observed in economically developed countries. Dr. Brian Timmons says the preschool years are a critical period for raising active healthy kids. Dr. Brian Timmons: While some people might think preschoolers are active enough, the research tells us that many preschooler children are not achieving minutes of physical activity that we would like them to achieve. Physical activity has many benefits for young children including stronger bones, a healthier body weight. The easiest thing we can do to allow to preschoolers to live a physically active lifestyle is to provide opportunities for them to do so, and that means reducing the amount of screen time and sedentary time and creating opportunities for active play. Sherry Demeterco: The Best Start Resource Center has created the Have a Ball Together! Campaign which is encouraging parents of two to five year old to replace sedentary time spent watching television and on the computer with active play time. Sylvie Boulet: Parents and children can engage in fun, active, and unstructured play which means they don't have to pay for clothing, special equipment or even transportation. When two to five year old play outside, they increase their skills, they increase their physical activity and they are healthier. Cher Cunningham: When my grandchildren first moved in, I was surprised at how quickly the six year old got tired. Just walking down the road to the mailbox, he would start complaining that his legs hurt already. Because our property backs on beautiful trails we would go on nature hikes. We started doing that about two years ago and we just go for a little tiny hike and see what we could discover in the forest. Well eventually, we discovered something that the boys called a funky tree and it was quite a trail and we would walk for half an hour, we would get to the funky tree and they would swing from it and climb up and down the branches. I found that if the boys got bored, they would think they were tired already. So as long as we kept busy and active and chatting about what we saw, they could go further and further, and now they can walk two or three miles at a time, and still be having fun. Sherry Demeterco: Basic skills such as running, climbing, throwing, catching and kicking don't just happen. The early years are the best time to develop the motor skills in a non-competitive environment. Sylvie Boulet: Simple and convenient ways to have hours of fun for children and parents is to go to the park, rig the leaves, for example. Go for a nature walk, or in the winter build the snowman. Physical activity can be done inside with games such as dancing to the music, playing with the towel or setting up an obstacle course. Sherry Demeterco: The campaign includes the launch of the Have A Ball Together! website with ideas on how to increase the physical activity of your two to five year old. Parent resource cards with inside and outside seasonal activities, physical activities tickers to track your progress or act as a reminder and a colorful pamphlet and poster. Resources are available at your local Early Year Center and bookmarks can be picked up at selected libraries across Ontario. For more information, visit haveaballtogether.ca. Sherry Demeterco reporting.