Most of us know that being physically active is an important element to maintaining a healthy life. Participating in physical activities helps youth build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints and reduce risk factors for chronic diseases. In addition to positively impacting youth’s physical health, physical activity positively impacts youth’s psychological and emotional health. Physical activity can reduce stress. Physical activity can also increase youth’s self-esteem; something particularly important for girls.
While you may have known the importance physical activity, did you know that, according to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior survey, most youth do not engage in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day? Did you know that girls are less physically active than boys? Almost a third of girls do not participate in the recommended amount of physical activity on any day!
To address these alarming statistics, Strong Women, Strong Girls is getting active. New to the 2010-2011 Countdown to Success Skills weekly curriculum are two 10-15 minute physical activities. These “Get Active” pieces engage mentors and girls in short spurts of physical activity. When mentors and girls complete both “Get Active” pieces, they are half way to achieving the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity for that day!
The “Get Active” physical activities complement Strong Women, Strong Girls’ already interactive and engaging lessons. They also reinforce Jump into Spring, Strong Women, Strong Girls’ signature event. At Jump into Spring, parents, girls, mentors, staff and community members come together for a fun-filled day of jumping rope.
Strong Women, Strong Girls’ “Get Active” pieces and Jump into Spring capitalize on the Women’s Sports Foundation and the CDC’s best practices for encouraging girls to get active:
- Teach them the diversity of ways they can be physically active. Being physical active means moving your body, engaging your muscles and getting your heart beating. This can be achieved in many different ways, both competitive and noncompetitive. In the Strong Women, Strong Girls’ “Get Active” portions, girls dance. Girls act. Girls play tag. Girls do starfish jumps. At Jump into Spring, girls jump rope. At Strong Women, Strong Girls, girls get physically active.
- Show them physical activity can be fun. Aligning physical activities with girls’ abilities and interests shows them that getting active can be fun. The more fun an activity, is the more likely girls are to participate. Many of the “Get Active” pieces are silly activities that help girls feel comfortable in their own skin while moving and shaking. Jump into Spring is a huge celebration complete with a DJ, MC, and local celebrities.
- Provide them with support. When girls see adults and peers participating in physical activity, the task seems more achievable and fun. Youth, and girls in particular, are more likely to be active if their parent or guardian is also active. The “Get Active” pieces are embedded into Strong Women, Strong Girls’ group mentoring model that surrounds girls with 2-3 supportive college-age mentors and 10-15 energetic girls. Jump into Spring exposes girls to Strong Women, Strong Girls’ national community; inclusive of girls, parents and guardians and community supporters.
- Use interactive learning techniques that integrate physical activities with other parts of their lives. Asking girls questions and engaging them in brainstorming, critical thinking and teamwork during physical activities encourages them to actively participate. It helps them develop positive attitudes and behavioral skills for a lifelong commitment to physical activity. The “Get Active” portions of Strong Women, Strong Girls are interactive and physical ways for girls and mentors to brainstorm, review, and reinforce the skills and women covered each week. Jump into Spring brings together important adults and peers from different parts of girls’ lives to one exciting and encouraging space.
By integrating physical activities into our weekly lessons and signature Jump into Spring event, Strong Women, Strong Girls is helping girls lead physically and emotionally healthy lives now and helping girls to establish lifelong healthy habits for the future!