By Sarah Miller
Nowadays, it is hard to instill healthy choices in our children. Why cook a nutritious meal when fast food is so readily available? Why go outside and play with your children when it’s easier to set them in front of the television with a video game? We live in a fast paced world where people have a desire for quick and easy. While it makes life simpler, it can cause problems in the long run. By not encouraging your child to eat the right foods and exercise regularly, the child can start to put on too much weight. While no parent wants to deny their child what they want, they end up contributing accidentally to their child’s obesity. No one is perfect, but there is a way to start making mindful decisions about how much exercise your child gets and what they put in their body. The Let’s Move in Indian Country program is here to help!
Created by First Lady Michelle Obama, the Let’s Move program began in February 2010, with the intent to tackle the obesity problem in children in the United States. Over the past three decades, obesity rates have tripled. A majority of the increase in childhood obesity since 2004 has occurred in Native American and Alaska Native children. This prompted the First Lady to take measures to get these numbers down and to reduce risks such as diabetes and asthma in native children. In May of 2011, Let’s Move! In Indian Country, a program aimed specifically for combating the obesity problem in Native American children, began.
One in three children are overweight by the age of five in Indian Country, according to the Let’s Move website. This program is an initiative to solve the obesity problem within a generation. It will help children grow up healthier and teaches them to make wiser choices when it comes to what they eat and how they exercise.
The program looks to tribal communities and leaders to help set examples of proper diet and exercise for children. By doing this, Native children will grow, thrive and meet their potential. In addition, it reduces many health risks. Healthy eating, combined with proper exercise, can reduce health risks such as heart disease, cancer and strokes.
Let’s Move works by utilizing four main goals specifically designed for this program. The goals are creating a healthy start on life, developing healthy learning communities, increasing physical activities, and increasing access to affordable, healthy and traditional foods. For those interested, the Let’s Move! in Indian Country website has a variety of tools for parents and community members that help them make better lifestyle choices not only for their kids, but themselves as well.
At the Let’s Move! in Indian Country website, www.letsmove.gov, parents are offered a way to look at how they can change the diet of their children. There are tips for setting up meal plans for your kids and it even offers traditional healthy recipes. While on the website you can also sign up for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) challenge. PALA is not just for kids but adults too. This program requires you to maintain a healthy diet and exercise for six weeks. Adults are required to get thirty minutes of daily exercise for five days a week while kids are required to get sixty minutes of exercise a day. The challenge also helps you set up healthy eating goals. Visit the website to get signed up and to get more information on the challenge.
It may seem difficult to make these kinds of lifestyle changes, but there is help to be found at Tulalip. Sara Pattison, Dietician at the Karen Fryberg Health Clinic, offers insight on what kinds of foods to eat or shop for and how to plan meals. Her number is 360-716-5626. Also at the health clinic is Patrece Gates, Fitness Trainer. She can assist you with an exercise plan. And you can visit her fitness room to do a little exercising to see where you are physically and how much you can handle. Her number is 360-716-5643.
But that’s not it. Tulalip Youth Services has open gym at the Don Hatch Gym Greg Williams Court. With school starting, you can encourage your child to get into school sports. And don’t forget that all Tulalip tribal members have a free membership to the Marysville YMCA, where you can use the exercise equipment, take a yoga or zumba class, or even just swim around in the pool.
It’s a big lifestyle change that can seem scary and intimidating when it comes to a child, but it will benefit them in the long run. Just take it one step at a time and join in with their healthy lifestyle change.
By Sarah Miller