Sounds like a tiny tot gym for aspiring World Body Builders like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but instead it is a new federal program aimed at giving preschoolers a head start on future healthy behaviors and generally good health.
The new center called the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play AKA Head Start Body Start, received a $12 million, four-year grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services federal administration for Children and Families.
The National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) secured the grant after a competitive process. NASPE is known for their ability to mobilize and service children across the nation in advocacy for physical education, physical activity, and nutrition.
AAPAR executive Director Mariah Burton Nelson added, “Through this partnership, almost a million children will receive not only a head start but a body start, not only academic preparation but physical preparation.”
Head Start Preschools across the nation will be competing for sub-grants for construction or improvement of playgrounds and outdoor play spaces at Head Start Centers.
Competitive Head Start Body Start competitive grants will be released later this spring for improving Head Start Center playgrounds, as well as increasing physical activity.
The grant couldn’t come at a more opportune time.
Making the case for outdoor play.
A study by researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center points out the importance of educating not only children but adults on the importance of outdoor play. The study found that “Some workers said the outdoor play is too much trouble because it requires time to bundle up kids during the cold weather.” Another challenge identified by researchers is called the flip-flop factor. Day care workers keep children inside if they show up in flip flops rather than sneakers on a chilly day.
Read More at The Recess Blog – Why Children Spend So Little Time Outside.
Preschoolers mostly inactive in play.
It sounds like an oxymoron. How can one be inactive at play? But two studies recently released attest to that fact. The first study can be found in the January/February issue of Child Development Magazine, which found that preschoolers were determined to be in the moderate-to-vigorously active category at play only 54% of the time while engaged in outdoor activities. More alarming was the finding that preschoolers were sedentary 94% of the time when indoors. Put simply, preschoolers are inactive even in play.