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So school starts back up on Tuesday and I can’t say I feel bad for the kids who are dreading the first day of class.

We all went through it ourselves when we were their age and they’ll find out that vacations aren’t all they’re cracked up to be once they leave school.

For now, let them enjoy the dying days of summer but here’s one thing I hope they did between playing their Game Boys and visiting the mall, or whatever it is the kids are doing these days: they stayed active.

That’s the big thing nowadays – keeping kids active. Far too often, we see and hear about how children aren’t getting enough movement which creates more problems than we care to admit, most notably childhood obesity. No excuse for that, especially with so many options open to families in Yellowknife.

Pick your sport and there’s a very good chance there’s some sort of programming dedicated to it on the youth side: hockey, soccer, judo, basketball, you name it. I always made sure I played a sport of some sort when I was younger simply because I loved it. Softball became my sport of choice (mainly because I was the biggest kid on the team and I hit dingers) but I played a variety of others: curling, karate and even badminton.

I still get a kick out of the time I went to cover a badminton event and there I was rallying like I never left the sport. Julie Jeffery was never more impressed in her life.

Olivia Talen gets down low to return a shot during the Racquet Club’s junior squash camp earlier this month. Youth need to stay active not just for now but for the future as well. NNSL file photo

The point I’m making is that no matter what you do, make sure you’re active. That line about the importance of kids getting an hour of physical activity per day is no joke. There’s no guarantee they’ll get it at school because there’s a very good chance they’ll end up farting around on their smart devices at recess.

On a side note, I’m all for schools that want to ban device usage during school hours. Nothing good comes from allowing students to make Facebook posts about how they bought this boss lunch or other garbage, which has nothing to do with life. It’s a lot like how I don’t care whether your baby took its first crap in its diaper. I’m happy for you and that’s a huge first step in parenthood but ultimately, I don’t care.

With that out of the way, back to the activity deal and this is where you parents come in.

All this week, I was working from the comfort (or confines at times) of my home because I’ve been looking after my little ones while my wife gets set for the new school year. I got my work done in short order and then took the kids out to play for at least one hour. We picked a playground and they ran amok. It’s an easy way for your little ones to get the activity time they need every day.

My eldest daughter is enrolled at Bella Dance and while it’s not sporty, that’s another way for her to get her active time. Now, as you know, I’m not the biggest fan of the arts and I would much rather watch an Australian Rules Football game over a performance from Opera Australia any day of the week, twice on Sundays. But the point is she’s active, she’s moving around and she’s doing it at a pretty high rate of movement.

Physical literacy is a term you may have heard of at one time or another. If you haven’t, you should learn what it is because it is important. The long definition, according to the International Physical Literacy Association. Is “…the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.”

In short, it’s about making sure physical activity is a part of your life.

Several sports have taken on the main building blocks of physical literacy as outlined by the Sport For Life Society, which grew out of Canadian Sport For Life. You may have seen programs such as Active Start, FUNdamentals and Learn To Train in sports such as soccer and speed skating and it’s all part of what’s known as Long-Term Athlete Development. I very much advise you to check out the Sport For Life website and see what’s there. The material is worth the read and if your child is involved in anything where the aforementioned three programs are offered, it will give you a heads-up as to what will be going on.

No matter what they do or how they do it, youth need to be active. There’s no excuse for them not to be.

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James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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