The Case for Play
I don’t remember how long ago, maybe a decade, maybe more. A German tourist stopped me on Broadway, just outside the paper and asked for directions.
We got to chatting. I asked her how she liked Nashville.
Loved it, she said. She went on about the country music and how nice everyone was, but then she added:
“Everyone is FAT!”
I was shocked, and insulted on behalf of my fellow Volunteers, that she would say such a thing. But it was a bit like the Emperor and his clothes. I suddenly noticed there were some awfully big bums all around.
Now, Tennessee is officially the 4th Fattest State in the Union. (My own posterior has contributed to the numbers, as I suddenly have no idea where the middle-aged baggage hanging off of me has come from…despite regular exercise.)
And, about our kids: 36.5% of our kids ages 10 to 17 were overweight or obese, according to 2007 figures. In 2011, we had the sixth-highest childhood obesity rate.
Nationally, the obesity rate for kids and adolescents has tripled since 1980. The statistics for Hispanic children and adults are beyond alarming.
Where is the outrage about that?
I come from a culture that celebrates la gordita of all ages, and we live in a time that fetichizes food while getting minimal movement.
Becoming a mother and suddenly being responsible for laying a foundation for someone else’s lifelong well-being forced me to look at my own attitude about exercise and my own food choices. I realized that to beat back diabetes, heart disease and all those other ailments that run in my bloodline and culture, I needed to set an example of good living for my child — and work extra hard at it.
We hiked our way to a waterfall this weekend — up steep slopes and over slippery rocks — and it hit me loudly that I want to stay as fit as possible so I can do these awesome things with my family for many, many years to come.
Now, in the years since that German tourist and I met, Nashville has created new parks and greenways, there are active public service campaigns for healthy living, new farmer’s markets, and even our latest mayor got into promoting regular exercise by publicly walking 100 miles.
So, we’re trying.
But, it all starts at home, doesn’t it?
Promoting Play Giveaway
Today, over on the Tiki Tiki Blog, we’re giving away 3 Play Kits from Let’s Play, an initiative I have written for for more than a year. Let’s Play is partnered with KaBoom! the nonprofit park-builder to promote active play for children and families.
My essays and ideas are on the Let’s Play site, as are those of other writers.
I am posting this here because, while the winners will be selected randomly, I am hoping at least one of the prizes goes to a Tennessean.
We need to spread the message of healthy living and active play at home too.
So, head on over and try for a play kit.