Portland News

June 13, 2024

Strategies to Combating Sedentary Lifestyles with Active Learning

Strategies to Combating Sedentary Lifestyles with Active Learning
Photo Courtesy: Fit and Fun Playscapes

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In an era where digital screens dominate playtime, the importance of physical activity and movement in the developmental stages of children cannot be overstated. The increasing trend of sedentary lifestyles among school-aged children is alarming, with profound implications for their physical health, mental well-being, and academic performance. However, amidst this concerning scenario, there emerges a beacon of hope aimed at revolutionizing child development through increased daily physical activity – Fit and Fun Playscapes.

Fit and Fun Playscapes CEO and Founder Pamela Gunther is at the forefront of fostering environments conducive to active learning and development. With a mission deeply rooted in promoting children’s mental, physical, and emotional health, the company has identified extended recess periods and increased movement opportunities as key drivers for fostering well-rounded individuals prepared to thrive in our modern world

CRITICAL TOOLS FOR HEALTH & WELLNESS

Research underscores the myriad benefits that regular physical activity brings to children’s cognitive functions, such as improved concentration, memory retention, and enhanced problem-solving skills. By integrating sensory movement pathways within educational settings – an innovative approach championed by Fit and Fun Playscapes – students are afforded structured ways to engage in physical movement throughout their day. These pathways are not just about encouraging regular activity; they serve as critical tools for sensory integration, crucial for processing information from one’s environment effectively.

“Since our products are developed with educators and experts in health fields, they are easily integrated into schools. They are used for active play, self-regulation, mindfulness, fitness, social and sensory needs… Our activities and graphics provide multiple opportunities for movement, self- regulation, and social interaction. Movement is how kids learn life skills and recess is a great place to practice these skills. Recess is a microcosm of how they will deal with situations throughout their lives.” – Gunther

One of the most practical, dynamic, and effortless solutions that schools can utilize is to continue to integrate movement across the day – not just during recess and physical education. Fit and Fun Playscapes encourages daily physical activity, motor planning, and play. These activities can happen during in-class time, at transitions, and recess. The application of painted stencils, floor and wall stickers, and portable mats, such as the products presented by Fit and Fun Playscapes afford children the opportunity to move.

When utilizing Fit and Fun’s reusable stencils, the results yielded “A 66% increase in teachers and schools playing games and being engaged with students and a 27% increase in the percentage of students who are physically active. Post-intervention observation showed that over 90% students were involved in physically active play.” [CDC Link: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/achievement_stories/oklahoma.htm]

PHYSICAL IMPACT OF PLAYTIME

“As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist… their products help to improve motor planning and body awareness while providing visual, kinesthetic, proprioceptive, and tactile feedback. They assist those that need to increase their energy and arousal level as well as those who need to calm and organize their bodies. The carefully chosen and classic games allow for creatively crossing the bodies’ midline and connecting both the right and left sides of the brain allowing for increased processing. Not to mention the added benefits of focus, academics, and physical coordination while encouraging socialization and problem-solving skills!”– Pepper Franchina-Gallagher BS/MS OTR/L Coastal Kids Occupational Therapy, PLLC

Fit and Fun Playscapes designs their indoor, outdoor, and portable activities with this in mind; combining colorful graphics, science-based movements, and intentional activities into every product. Creating unique activities and graphics that promote physical activity and mindfulness to include Social-Emotional Learning “SEL” (i.e., hopscotch, sensory pathways, yoga poses, and positive messaging but with vibrant colors and engaging styles) is abundantly backed by scientific research and findings from the medical community, mental health professionals, teachers, and school administrator.

Strategies to Combating Sedentary Lifestyles with Active Learning

Photo Courtesy: Fit and Fun Playscapes

SENSORY MOVEMENT PATHWAYS

Sensory movement pathways offer a multifaceted approach to enhancing student well-being. From stimulating brain activity for better cognitive functions to managing emotional stress for a conducive learning atmosphere, these pathways stand out as practical solutions easily integrated into schools’ daily routines. They also provide a structured avenue for students with unique needs such as those diagnosed with ADHD or experiencing anxiety and depression – conditions prevalent among today’s youth.

Fit and Fun Playscapes’ commitment extends beyond just promoting physical fitness; it encompasses nurturing social skills, problem-solving abilities, and behavioral regulation through thoughtfully designed play areas that encourage self-regulation and mindfulness. As Pamela Gunther says, “Movement is the foundation for growth physically, academically, socially, and creatively.” This philosophy aligns with the CDC’s recommendation advocating for 60 minutes of daily physical activity among children and adolescents.

The significance of this initiative becomes even more pronounced when considering recent literature pointing towards a decline in fundamental motor skills among kindergarten-aged children across the United States. A trend attributed to an increase in sedentary lifestyle choices directly linked to lifelong chronic obesity issues. It is evident that creating opportunities for exercise throughout the day isn’t merely beneficial; it’s imperative. The journey towards combating childhood obesity and addressing the SEL crisis requires collective action from school administration, parents, and teachers alike. Incorporating innovative solutions like sensory movement pathways presents a tangible strategy towards this goal

Discover more about how Fit And Fun Playscapes is transforming educational landscapes through active play by visiting their website or connecting on social media platforms such as Twitter (twitter.com/FitandFunPlay), Facebook (www.facebook.com/FitandFunPlayscapes), Instagram (www.instagram.com/fitandfunplayscapes/), YouTube (youtu.be/i9odTma1HUU), or TikTok (www.tiktok.com/@fitandfunplay).

Published by: Aly Cinco

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