"Go outside and play; just be home before dark!" Sound familiar? It's a line that encapsulates our own childhood, when the hours after school and just before dinner were ours for the taking. Whether it was riding bikes down the steep, winding hill, building treehouses in the backyard, traversing "hot lava" at the local playground, or exploring with no particular plan in mind, it is play that illustrates what it means to be a kid.
Unfortunately, kids today are playing less than any previous generation. According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, kids today spend less time playing outdoors because there are far too few places to play, and kids are not given enough time to play.* The study points out most students do not get to enjoy daily P.E. classes and there is a decline in walking and biking, especially when it comes to commuting to and from school each day. Thankfully, while these "good old days" may seem somewhat distant and nostalgic, they don't have to be long gone; CLIF Kid wants to inspire and challenge families to get outside and play every day. It's time to put kids first and make it easy for them to get the play they need to thrive.
Just as a healthy diet balances proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and other nutrients, a balanced "play diet" should include a mix of all kinds of play, because different types have different benefits. For example, play-dough creations, blocks, and make-believe spark the imagination and teach problem-solving skills. Running, jumping, and climbing get legs moving and hearts pumping. And exploring playgrounds with families or playing hide-and-seek with friends helps kids learn to work together, collaborate and share.
When kids get a balance of active play that they realize all the benefits. Because play -- in all of its forms -- is a powerful thing. From addressing obesity, and improving mental health and wellness, to building creative and successful future generations, balanced and active play lays the foundation for a skilled, healthy, resilient, and successful society. "We want kids to be kids, and to encourage families to discover new frontiers outside -- in parks, backyards and on city sidewalks," said Jodi Olson, CLIF Kid brand director. "The beauty of free play is that parents don't always have to plan playdates or activities -- a child's imagination can see open spaces as worlds to explore and friends become their fellow adventurers. At CLIF Kid, we have families and we see the benefits our kids experience when given the time and freedom to play. That's why we embrace the importance of crafting food that nourishes kids so they can get outside, push their boundaries and feed their adventures."
As part of the quest to get more kids outside to play, KaBOOM! is thrilled to support CLIF Kid. In today's highly-scheduled society, we've overlooked the fact that, as children engage in play, not only are they moving, but they are also learning, creating, and imagining. Play can be hard to prioritize as an adult, but is crucial to the development of a kid. When we encourage play as a community, it's easier and more fun for everyone. With our partners, KaBOOM! has already built, opened and improved more than 16,000 playgrounds in the United States, which have served more than 8.1 million kids, and is committed to encouraging families to integrate more play into the daily lives of all kids.
Clearly, times have changed. We may live in an always on, always connected world, but this doesn't mean we should stop playing; for no mobile device can ever replace the best playground in the world -- the great outdoors. As CLIF Kid reminds us all, a creek is still a great place to get muddy, a few scraps of wood still make an awesome ramp and a bandage is still a badge of honor. Join CLIF Kid and KaBOOM! in this effort and let your child run, jump, climb, bike, build, ride, skate or adventure EVERYWHERE. And when today's parents reminisce with their kids they, too, can fondly recall the grand rally cry to their friends, "Come out to play!"
* "Building 'generation play': Addressing the crisis of inactivity among America's children." Stanford University, School of Medicine (2007) http://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/StanfordReport.pdf