Image courtesy of the President’s Challenge
Providing low cost, readily accessible tools that organizations and individuals can use to help children increase their levels of physical activity can be a challenge, but it’s one the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports’ (PCPFS) President’s Challenge program is ready to meet. Thanks to one of the goals identified in First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative--to increase youth physical activity as measured through participation in the President’s Challenge Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) , the Council hopes more physical activity practitioners, parents, caregivers, and teachers will know about the tools at their disposal.
In addition to the PALA, the physical activity and fitness awards programs that make up the President’s Challenge offer a low or no cost and easy way to help children and adults stay on track with their physical activity and fitness. While tracking physical activity isn’t for everyone, it can help some realize a goal, such as those outlined in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and help them work towards improved health.
As the Guidelines for children and adolescents state, young people should engage in a variety of activities that they enjoy. There are over 100 different activities that count towards earning the PALA including skateboarding, soccer, baseball, rock climbing, canoeing, and the increasingly popular video-based physical activity or exer-games. This variety exemplifies the breadth of physical activities, including sports and recreational activities, in which individuals of all ages and abilities can participate to maintain or improve their health.
People need to start someplace and by doing the amount of activity required to earn the PALA, youth and adults are well on their way to realizing the health benefits of physical activity. If you have the capacity to influence a child’s life, take a moment to consider challenging them to earn the PALA. The program is for individuals ages 6 and older, therefore, adults (e.g., parents, grandparents, big brothers or sisters, coaches) have the opportunity to set an example for the children they influence by earning their own PALA, too.
What kinds of tools are you using to increase levels of physical activity among the children you serve? Do you believe that adults can serve as physical activity role-models for youth? Have you had success using awards programs to encourage youth or adult physical activity?