How many times as a kid did your mother or caregiver urge you outside because you needed to “run off some energy” or “get the wiggles out” or “soak up some good, old-fashioned sunshine”? (Sure, she also wanted you out of her hair for a while, but that’s beside the point.)
On the heels of Mother’s Day, I’m realizing that many of us believe fresh air and exercise are good for us because our mothers told us so—not just because of all the research studies we’ve read that indicate kids’ playtime in green outdoor spaces reduces symptoms of attention disorders and improves results on standardized tests.1
ACTIVE joins you (and your mom) in valuing these tenets for good health. So, we invite you to join us in promoting two special days this summer that help make the world a healthier, more active place. By adding these summer events to your program, you can showcase your commitment to healthier kids.
Global Running Day – June 7
Running isn’t the only way to get exercise, but it’s a good place to start, according to WebMD: “It’s cheap, easy, and the perfect thing to do with a friend,” says running coach Julie Isphording, a former marathoner and a health and fitness radio host. “I can promise you this,” she adds, “you will never regret a run. There’s hardly anything in life you can say that about.”2
Most kids run for the sheer joy of it. I know of a mother who insisted that her active, young son run laps around their house when she thought he needed it. Perhaps she knew instinctively “that running makes you happier,” according to Runner’s World magazine. “A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.”3
As we get older, running is harder to do and harder to fit into our schedules. But its easy access, low cost, and proven boost to mental health are all good reasons both adults and kids should get in the habit of running.
You can be spontaneous or as organized as you want—whether it’s a 5K Fun Run, a race to the chain-link fence on a summer’s day, or a game of tag at the gym. Participation in Global Running Day is easy—just pledge to take part in some type of running activity on June 7. The whole point is to inspire a passion for moving. 4
Get Outdoors Day – June 10
Just like your mother, the 10th Annual Get Outdoors Day encourages active, outside fun. Organizers hope to reconnect young people with the great outdoors and increase first-time visitors to public lands, including 94 participating locations.
If you’re not close enough to one of the event sites, plan your own event for the kids in your program. Here are some ideas, including suggestions from Richard Louv, author and advocate for kids experiencing nature and the outdoors5:
Take a city hike: Tell kids to bring daypacks with lunch and a water bottle and hold a pop-up nature walk. Look for insects and urban wildlife. You’ll find it, even if it’s in an alley or along a sidewalk. Younger children especially are great at spotting every ladybug, roly-poly, and bird feather in their path, so choose shorter routes for them and prepare to stop often.
Go wild-snapping: Provide disposable cameras, or invite students to bring their smartphones for a nature photography session. (Kids will be excited about any chance to pull out their phones!) Encourage experimental photos of birds, worms, beetles, and any other creatures that cross your path.
Get outdoors with art: In addition to photography, sketching, painting, and printmaking are just a few artistic experiences that kids can enjoy outdoors. Or plan for students to sing, dance, or put on a play at a local park.
What about you?
We’d love to hear how you’re commemorating these two active days on our Facebook post here.