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Libraries and Parents Can Weigh in Against Childhood Obesity

Concerned about your kids and childhood obesity? Your fight against childhood obesity is an open book with the aid of your local library. The two main causes of childhood obesity are diet and a lack of or insufficient physical exercise. Libraries are home to thousands of books, CDs and videos on nutrition, diet, sports, dance and exercise.  

Kids who are physically active reap enormous benefits. Studies show physical activity helps kids build strong bones and muscles, reduces the chance of becoming overweight, increases self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, decreases the risk of developing diabetes and helps kids become more attentive and better students.

Here are seven tips on how parents can use the Keene Public Library to help keep their kids fit.

1. Make a run for the library. Literally! Jog or power walk to your local library. Make your trip to get diet and physical fitness information an exercise in itself.

2. While taking out books on diet and physical fitness get some books on the body too. Giving kids an understanding of how their bodies’ work is a way of making kids stakeholders in their own health and fitness.

3. This summer, the Keene Public Library is participating in "Let's Read, Let's Move." The program, which supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to fight childhood obesity, promotes summer learning and reading, as well as healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition. We are encouraging summer readers to do some exercise or movement every day.

4. Take out movement and activity-oriented books. Do the story. Don’t just read the story to your kids. Parent thespians unite!  We are in this fight to insure healthy futures for our kids. Irene Smalls' book Jonathan and His Mommy, published by Hachette Book Group, is a mother and son tale of zany walking: reggae stepping, ballet stepping and bunny hopping. Walking is a great introduction to exercise. You can easily incorporate walking into your daily activities. Have some FUN. Let your kids’ imaginations create zany walks of their own. There are many books that are movement and activity oriented. My Daddy is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste is a good way for kids to try yoga.

5. Sport of the Month: Each month, expose your kids to a new sport or activity. You can get the books, music and videos you need from your local library. Sometimes kids won’t try a sport or activity until they try it under the tutelage of their number one role model, you the parent. Try Tai Chi, Pilates, Bocce or anything else you can imagine. After Sport of the Month, try Dance of the Month. Learn the Hula, Capoeira, African dance, Square dancing, Cake walking, or the Merengue.  The Keene Public Library has all the resources you need. We have books, dvds, and even programs to help you learn new sports and activities.  This summer, you and your family attend a Yoga @ your library! class on Mondays at 6:00 p.m. starting July 9. Teens and adults can learn to Tango on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. starting July 5

6. Celebrate! The next family event or even a regular evening at home include some dancing. Paella night with some Spanish dancing is a good idea. You can get the recipe for paella at the library. Or, have a 60’s themed party with your children dressing up in period costume; disco balls are cheap. If you are low on the disco songs of the era you can find the tunes you need at your local library. Then, you can teach your kids to twist, hustle, do the robot and the fly. Dancing is a great cardio-vascular workout.

7. Volunteer at your local library. You and your kids can shelve books, plant flowers or clean up the area around the library. All that reaching, bending, twisting, and digging burns calories.

Finally, as First Lady Michelle Obama recently said, “We need parents and teachers, business and community leaders, and the public and private sectors to come together to create more opportunities for our kids to be active so they can lead happy, healthy lives.”

Together, libraries and parents can weigh in to the fight against childhood obesity. It takes the village to raise a child, and it’s going to take the village to lower the rate of childhood obesity and help our children lead happy healthy lives.

Adapted from an @ your library article by Irene Smalls, MBA is the author of 5 active books for children.  You can learn more about Ms. Smalls and Literacise at www.literacise.com.

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