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Active Adults = Active Kids, and Parks Lead the Way

We all know that children spend a lot of time in front of screens now. What can you do to make sure your child safely plays outside?

Be active yourself!

Kids of active parents are two times more likely to be active. Walk a trail, bike ride, play catch, chase each other, kick a soccer ball, climb a jungle gym…all this can be done at Canal Winchester’s city parks and (soon) the new McGill Park.

Did you know that half of all vigorous exercise engaged in by Americans occurs in parks?

According to the Aspen Institute,

People who live closer to parks report better mental health. Time spent in green outdoor spaces has been shown to boost focus and concenration, and kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience milder symptoms when they play outside in a natural setting.

Unstructured play in childhood is also associated with higher levels of academic creativity among college students, according to a 2014 University of Texas study. The ideal mix was a split between organized and free play (Project Play)—just like the mix of soccer and baseball fields and inclusive play areas at McGill. Children who spend more time in less structured activities in general are better able to set their own goals and take action on them, researchers at the University of Colorado found (Project Play). Those studies came on the heels of another one showing informal play is protective against injury in competitive young athletes.

How to do it? Here are some ideas, with the help of the Aspen Institute:

  • Carpooling kids from school doesn’t have to mean taking them home. Instead, take them to a park for a pickup basketball game or a trail for a group hike. An active hour after school revives them after sitting all day.
  • Have an HOA? Make a neighborhood group for kids that can turn into a game of kickball or tag.
  • Create safe spaces for kids to play through group play dates. Each parent takes turns, providing supervision for one hour at a park or a street.
  • Have a business? Ask how your business can help by sponsoring a team, providing park-based sponsored play activities, or incentivizing volunteer coaches. (Volunteer coaches also need better training, and you can help by funding them!)

The case is lining up for adults to get out of the way more often—and let the game, and child peers, be the teacher. With 84 acres and an inclusive playground, McGill Park will support your efforts to have healthy, active kids.