September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and the Anson County Partnership for Children is sponsoring a PlayDaze at Little Park on Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“It is for children 2-5, but others are welcome,” said Caroline Goins, director of ACPC. “Childhood obesity is a big problem in Anson County, and the sooner children are engaged in active play, the faster positive behaviors will develop.”
All children must be accompanied by an adult. Little Park is at 845 Airport Road in Wadesboro.
The Anson County Health Department sent out a press release to encourage healthy habits in children early on in life.
According to the release, about one in three American kids and teens are overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Among children today, obesity is causing a large range of health problems. These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high blood cholesterol levels.
Children become overweight and obese for many reasons, the release said. The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these issues. A child’s total diet and activity level play an important role in determining a child’s weight. Today, many children spend a lot time being inactive. For example, the average child spends about four hours each day watching television. As computers and video games become more popular, the number of hours of inactivity may increase.
The best way, the release said, to determine whether a child is overweight is by making a doctor’s visit. The doctor will measure your child’s weight and height and total his body mass index to compare this value to average values. The doctor will also consider your child’s age and growth patterns. This can help determine if your child’s weight is in an unhealthy range.
To help decrease childhood obesity parents and children can:
• Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products.
• Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
• Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein.
• Serve reasonably-sized portions.
• Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
• Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
• Encourage physical activity.
“Children need the opportunity to explore the world through free play,” Goins said. “Play Daze celebrates the value of play and is designed to provide diverse play activities for toddlers to grandparents.”
The point is to play for the sake of playing, to be physically active, to challenge each individual to be creative in mind and body, to take risks, to make individual choices, to connect with their family, friends, neighbors and community, and share in the joy of discovery and interaction without the need for competition.
“Children of all ages need opportunities for play,” she added.
Play Daze is an opportunity for young children to enjoy supervised, unstructured playtime, where they are free to explore and use materials provided or found in 10 unique play stations. Free play promotes healthy living, regulates emotions, relieves stress, develops creativity and builds confidence in young children.
“The objectives of Play Daze are: Increase physical activity, social interaction, and time spent outdoors; increase the time children spend playing independently or with other children in their own ways without adult interruption; positively alter adult attitudes towards children free play and their role in child development,” Goins said.
Activities include tent building, bubbles, water play, paint lab, tricycle track, dramatic play, and more.
“The children are free to choose where they wanted to play during the event, which serves to promote critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity, develop confidence and encourage physical activity,” Goins said.
Play Daze is a brain-child of Be Active Kids, an award-winning, signature program of the Blue Cross-Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.
This innovative, interactive health program for children ages birth to five is available to adults working in child care centers, child care homes, and schools across North Carolina.
For more information on childhood obesity or free educational sessions provided on childhood obesity, nutrition, or physical activity, contact the Anson County Health Department’s Dinikia Savage at 704-994-3342.
Anson County Partnership for Children is sponsoring a PlayDaze at Little Park on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.