Whenever you go out and about these days, children of all ages are on screens. They are either on a smartphone or a tablet, playing games or watching videos. Parks are not as crowded as they used to be and everyone is looking for free wifi. It is a sad state of affairs. One non-profit organization is trying to reverse this trend. That is the American Heart Association in conjunction with the NFL and it is the NFL Play 60 initiative.
WHAT IS NFL PLAY 60?
It is a joint venture between the American Heart Association and the NFL to get children to play at least 60 minutes a day in hopes of bringing awareness to and thereby decreasing the amount of childhood obesity. Children seem to be moving a lot less and eating foods that are not healthy for them. Professional athletes, who are in constant motion and must eat healthy food to fuel their bodies, encourage children to do the same.
HOW DO I GET A CHILD INVOLVED?
Children can get involved through school programs, contests, and community events.
Teachers can register their school online. They can get lesson plans and movement activities to do throughout the day with their students. Teachers can give physical activity homework, take home resources, and a year-round physical activity toolkit. Parents can also access any of these school-based activities at home. Some children may never go outside when they get home from school, but if it’s part of the homework, it may persuade families to get moving.
Although it is an app, which means screen time, NFL Rush gets children moving. Children make an avatar in the app, which moves when your child runs and jumps. They can compete against other children, unlock new characters, and get NFL gear. Children and their friends can compete against each other. Classmates can compete or even family members. That is some encouragement!!
Many communities offer Flag Football which is a great way to get kids moving and having fun at the same time. Children play with others from their community and can move on to championships across the country. Boys and girls can play and it’s okay if they don’t know how to play football. There are coaches there to help out.
Several communities are also chosen for Character Camps where they join NFL players and learn football skills and fun ways to exercise. Many children who may have no motivation for or means to exercise can get tips and encouragement from their favorite players. Another way to support healthy, happy children.
WHAT ELSE DOES THE PROGRAM OFFER?
There is also an in-school nutrition program called Fuel Up to Play 60. You can go to their website (www.fueluptoplay60.com) and put in your zip code and find a school near you that participates. If your school doesn’t participate, there is an application that can be filled out by school personnel for the grant that is offered to support a healthy eating plan and a get-moving program. Students, parents, and educators can be part of this program. The program actually looks for students to be program ambassadors within their schools. Ambassadors can attend national summits and be part of youth councils. They can share what they learn with their peers and get their school onto a healthier eating and movement journey.
Any of the online resources give a great explanation of the programs that are offered. A great idea would be for parent-teacher organizations to work together to get these programs for their schools. It could be an involved process, but worth the work. Working as a team will get schools these needed resources.