nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

We Have Fat Kids Because The Parks Are Too Far Away...Not

 
A park for every American child.  What a great fitness idea!

A report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that
"one reason so many American kids are overweight is that few have a nearby place to play and exercise.  Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance." (Assoc Press, May 25)
Let's stop right there.  As a kid, I played outside 'til dark every day, and I think I went to a park about twice a year.  Most of the time we shot hoops, played baseball, played tag...ALL IN THE FRONT YARD.  My Mom told us to shut off the TV and get outside, be back before dark.

Are our public health officials suggesting that to combat childhood obesity we need to put a park by every kid's house, so they won't have to walk anywhere?
 
Fair enough if some kids live in high density housing and neighborhoods.  Still, a half-mile is a 10-minute walk (exercise, get it?)
 
Comes to that, why aren't there exercise programs in the schools?  Not the worthless, do-nothing periods most schools now have.  When I was in elementary school we couldn't wait to get to the playground for recess to play kickball, fox-across-the-river, skip rope, dodge ball, etc.  We RAN outside to play, and RAN back in when recess was over.
 
Drive by an elementary school today and observe the process.  Kids frequently are forbidden to play "competitive" games where somebody might lose (heaven forbid, they'll be scarred for life), or where children might find themsleves more or less able than others (and be challenged to improve, what a concept). 
 
Children are not allowed to run on the playground....Say what?  Answer from the schools:  they might hurt themselves....What?  Look, we skinned our knees and all that, it was part of learning motor coordination.  Our Dads would say, "Are you dyin'? No? Then shake it off and go play."
 
I don't remember seeing teachers on our playground at school, but I'm sure there was one....One.  Today there is a quota, which they all hate, and the job consists of "policing" the kids:  "don't do that", "stop running" etc.
 
Look around today's playground.  There'll be a few kids throwing a ball around, a few hanging on the swings talking, the rest just laying out.  Nobody's having any fun.
 
For you older folks, remember President Kennedy's physical fitness challenge?  We had to run, do pull ups, sit ups.  Our progress was recorded in school, and we earned the President's Fitness Award by achieving a high score.
 
I don't care whether it costs more to have physical training in schools; cut costs elsewhere, hire fewer low-value counselors, and adopt fewer brainless programs our teachers are required to conduct that are based on some PhD candidate's idea of progressive teaching.  Forget these dopey ideas that competition is bad for kids, that they need to be protected from strife and learning how to get along.  They'll manage...and be better for it.
 
Lest you see this as some old-timer's nostalgia ("I walked 5 miles to school...uphill...both ways") thing, try this:  it's cost-effective to let kids play, and a lot cheaper than hiring thousands of therapists and nutritionists, or federal regulators to enforce food laws.
 
If we want fit children in this country, forget calorie labeling in restaurants and fast food laws.  Get 'em moving, every day, foster competition and teamwork and....fun. 
 
Doc D
 

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