Friday, June 1, 2007

How do you move?

I'm working on a short article about ways to curb childhood obesity by getting kids moving. Seems in our overprotected, overscheduled, and overstimulated world, kids are starting to take an interest yesteryear's games: hop scotch, jump rope, kickball, red rover—even marbles, though I don't think those can be credited with much calorie-burning. Behind this trend is a growing body of educators and child-development experts (who no doubt harbor a bit of nostalgia for these games themselves) who believe we're depriving our kids of opportunities to explore their imagination, build relationships, and, yes, get moving.

The nemesis in this story is almost always the video game console, so I was surprised to read this NYT article about a game called "Dance, Dance Revolution," a Japanese phenomenon that apparently is now sweeping our couch-potato nation:

Published: April 30, 2007
Schools are deploying Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon in the battle against childhood obesity.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Children don’t often yell in excitement when they are let into class, but as the doors opened to the upper level of the gym at South Middle School here one recent Monday, the assembled students let out a chorus of shrieks.

In they rushed, past the Ping-Pong table, past the balance beams and the wrestling mats stacked unused. They sprinted past the ghosts of Gym Class Past toward two TV sets looming over square plastic mats on the floor. In less than a minute a dozen seventh graders were dancing in furiously kinetic union to the thumps of a techno song called “Speed Over Beethoven.”

Bill Hines, a physical education teacher at the school for 27 years, shook his head a little, smiled and said, “I’ll tell you one thing: they don’t run in here like that for basketball.”

It is a scene being repeated across the country as schools deploy the blood-pumping video game Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon in the nation’s battle against the epidemic of childhood obesity. While traditional video games are often criticized for contributing to the expanding waistlines of the nation’s children, at least several hundred schools in at least 10 states are now using Dance Dance Revolution, or D.D.R., as a regular part of their physical education curriculum.

Read more . . .

In this age of screen-obsession and crime/injury-paranoia, what are some creative ways that you encourage your kids to get up and move?

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