Monthly Meeting Report, LNCI membership, FebruaryFebruary 21, 2009
Agent of Change Awards accepting nominations (Columbus only)February 23, 2009
On Friday, Jenny Morgan and Alice Hohl attended a public hearing on the Healthy Ohio draft plan for addressing obesity in Ohio. It is a very comprehensive plan encompassing schools, workplaces, families, the health care system, etc. You can read it here, if you are interested. Don’t worry, there’s an executive summary.
We were the fifth group to give testimony, and there were many groups in attendance we were familiar with, and some we learned about that day.
Here are the main points we touched on at the hearing:
1. Introduced Leave No Child Inside, international, national, state, local.
2. Complimented the plan. Happy to see proposed investment in trails, parks, etc., beginning on page 40.
3. In this climate, when funding is scarce, what we (LNCI) are selling is free. Families playing in their yards and nearby parks and walking around their neighborhoods. What that actually turns out to be can appear messy and disorderly. (Digging up the grass, kids walking around in groups, etc.) Consequently, some of this free and extremely healthy behavior has been discouraged in favor of driving in cars to expensive lessons or faraway trails and large parks.
4. Parents want to do what’s best for their kids, but they need to be informed of the value of unstructured outdoor play.
5. Organized sports participation and obesity have been rising during the same time, so the first is not the answer to the second.
6. When Louv was here last month, he talked about “green exercise” and how much more energy you burn being outdoors than in a gym. (Hot or cold weather, uneven surfaces, increased concentration, etc.) It also leads to better mental health.
Although this is a state government-focused plan, please mention and involve community groups as much as possible to lend credibility to the campaign for parents and teachers.
Changing minds is more important than changing programs. One mother developed a “walking school bus” but no one signed up. We have to fund education before we can expect involvement.
Leave No Child Inside is here to help and support the mission of education.
It was a dark, stern room, but we made the panel laugh a few times, so maybe they will remember us as they finalize their plan for preventing obesity in Ohio!