Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoarthritis are just some of the medical conditions that our kids are now developing due to the inactive and nutrition depleted lifestyles imposed upon them. We live in a day where imagination and creativity are just as endangered as the Mauritius Kestrel. Just as some kids never heard of or get to express their imagination and creativity through play, I’ve never heard of a Mauritius Kestrel (I had to look it up – it’s some sort of bird). There used to be a time when it was ok to get dirty, to play outside was not an option and kids actually played the physical game of hockey not the virtual game via the Wii or PS3.

My kids are active kids. One more so than the other. When not dimpling my garage door with slap shots, Ethan who turned 10 in September, can be found at the school playing some sort of sport ball, or the bike jumps or in the neighbourhood at anyone of his friend’s house. There may be times I don’t know EXACTLY where he is but I know if needed to I could find him with little to no trouble. Most summer days, the only times I see him is when he’s hungry and once fed, he’s back out the door only to be seen at the end of the day and it’s time to wind down for the night.

I remember one specific time when my son got home from school, he made a 1.5 second pit stop in the pantry to grab whatever he could before heading out the door. The next I saw him was at around 6 to eat the plate of dinner waiting for him, and in record time he disappeared again till around 8, coming home head to toe in mud and no shoes on. When I questioned what had happened, he explained in an exasperated tone “I was just bike riding at the jumps and LOOK what happened!” Clearly there was more to “jumping” the bikes but it was nothing that a garden hose didn’t fix followed by a soak in the tub. By 830 he was knocked out in bed sound asleep.

This year has been really hard on my daughter. They have now moved into a phase from being best friends to moments of worst enemies, so the competition bar has been raised. Many times I’ve had to tell my son to quite driving the golf balls at his sister, or ease up on the slap shots when making her the goalie, or when teaching her to “ride” the garage door to get the pucks out of the top of the net to NOT!!! – which by the way I thought was slightly ingenious. My summer rules apply to the winter months as well….GO PLAY OUTSIDE – of course with some weather imposed rules applied regarding attire for our climate. Many kids down the block her age are not used to having brothers like Ethan, nor do they see the light of day during the winter months so my daughter gets lonely or is forced to keep up to her brother who loves to torture her with the cold snow. In any case, my daughter may have a little tom boy in her, but she’s a princess doing it. She loves to play with other girls, but unless there is a scheduled play date, or watched like a hawk through parental supervision or organized team sport these girls do not come out to play:) It saddens me when I see my own daughter somewhat depressed because no one will play outside.

But what if they get hurt you might ask? Well I don’t question what if, it’s just bound to happen and when that does happen, I believe in the value of community. I look out for you and yours and in turn you do the same. Should my son or daughter fall or cut something they are not in a life threatening distance away to seek help from home. Of course there is the chance the injury could be more severe but if we lived on what if’s we would hibernate ourselves in our house and watch TV all day – oh wait we already do that. This past month alone Ethan has limped home crying from kicking the curb with his bare foot trying kick the soccer ball, or Ryleigh has taken a spill on her bike while riding home only to arrive with a goose egg on her forehead from taking a spill. Those things are going to happen.

Long gone are the days of random play. People don’t go for walks anymore. There’s even 6 and 7-year-old kids that don’t know how to ride a bike yet. Make activity a priority in you life and your families lives. Invest in your community and stop to smell the roses. Enjoy in play and allow your kids to enjoy random play. Being active protects and prevents against those life threatening medical conditions mentioned before, and kids REQUIRE it for neural developement and proper developement in body mechanics. Do it for your kids and you will find the benefits help personally as well. Exercise and activity is proven to help prevent depression, ease stress, increase in self-esteem, increase in your quality of life and preserve and slow debilitating diseases such as MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis. But most importantly it’ll put a smile on their face creating family traditions and lasting memories. So READY-SET-GO!!!

From amidst the muddy waters, I will bloom.

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