Re-inventing childhood play time

Panorama Recreation program part of pushback against child obesity

Former Olympian Silken Laumann and her daughter Kate

Getting kids outside and back to the basics of physical activity is what programs like Play in the Park are all about, says a former Olympian.

Silken Laumann was at Sidney’s Iroquois Park for the official launch of Panorama Recreation’s Play in the Park program. Laumann, an elite-level rower, child and youth advocate and board member of Right to Play International, said this is one of many similar programs across B.C. and Canada, designed to overcome Canada’s growing youth obesity rates.

“There is a crisis in Canada around physical activity,” Laumann said. “Only seven per cent of kids are getting what’s required.”

The threats of inactivity and obesity are amplified by the amount of “screen time” children and youth are taking in — an estimated seven hours per day, says Ian Hennigar, senior manager of Panorama Recreation.

He added thanks to supports from Investors Group, Sidney-by-the-Sea Rotary Club and the Peninsula Recreation Commission, Panorama Recreation staff have been able to get the Play in the Park program running here every night in July and August for free.

“Nights like this are about getting back to basics,” Laumann said.

She added that parents can do similar things on their own, outside of formal programs.

“You can lead your children and kids from your neighbourhood in play. Even the old games that the parents grew up with are good.”

To make that point, Laumann and her daughter Kate engaged a group of children in a game of Duck Duck Goose, which allows kids to have fun running around in a circle.

Carl Jensen, chair of the Peninsula Recreation Commission, said finding time to be active — especially with your children — is key.

“Be flexible and open to it,” he said. “Look for opportunities to get out there.”

Play in the Park

From Monday to Friday, between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Panorama Recreation staff will be in local parks encouraging families to play together.

Play in the Park runs throughout July and August (no session on Aug. 5) in Central Saanich (Rodolph Park, Centennial Park, Pioneer Park), North Saanich (North Saanich Middle School, Wain Park) and Sidney (Iroquois Park, Rathdown Park).

Be sure to check www.panoramarecreation.ca for where the program will be on each night of the week.

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