Lastega ja lastele

Auhinnaga „Lastega ja lastele“ täname ja tunnustame inimesi ja organisatsioone, kelle uued algatused või pikemaajaline tegevus on positiivselt mõjutanud laste ja perede käekäiku.
Tunnustusauhinna taotluste voor on avatud 15. aprillini.

Esita taotlus

Not drinking water and not walking

When trying to characterise Americans, the majority of Estonians would probably say that they are fat. But about half of middle-aged Estonians, as well as many children, are also overweight. Therefore, kilograms could soon become our national identifier.

While about a tenth of primary school students are overweight, the percentage of overweight people increases proportionally with the years, as people age: By the age of 40, half of Estonian people are either overweight or obese according to their body mass index. Notoriously, people’s weight and exercise habits go hand in hand. As only 15% of people in their prime working age engage in wellness sports at least four times a week, the high number of overweight people in Estonia is not surprising. It is a serious problem because obesity means not only bad health, but also increasing health care costs and impaired job and learning performance.

Canada is the first country in the world to issue guidelines on the regulation of sedentary lifestyle, stating clearly that parents should limit the time their children spend in front of the TV and computer. In order that a child would not spend six (!) hours a day in a sitting position in front of a screen, he could at least walk a set distance to school. In addition, the guidelines recommend that parents spend after-school and family time by moving actively (outside). These things are easily accomplished, and also chock full of benefits because playing outside allows children to actually, not just virtually, spend time with their friends. Being with other children raises the child’s self-confidence, so he could cope better at school — let alone that the child’s physical shape improves and he learns new things.

Even those children who are active for an hour a day in some type of training session could experience health risks if they spend the rest of their time very passively. Parents who diligently take their children to workouts several times a week should also reduce the time the child spends in front of a computer or TV screen.

At the same, it seems hypocritical if I send my child to play outside and sink into the couch with my computer because I “need to finish one thing”. Examples are infectious ... Therefore, I go outside myself as well. In summer, with the nice weather, this is easier to do — in summer it is also possible to participate in several public sporting events, where the thrill of competition provides motivation to get into even better shape for the next trial.

Small steps, big goal
It is reasonable to start with small steps. This is literally true because movement and physical activity not only mean buying a fitness club membership and overly expensive sports equipment. Going for a walk in the forest or taking the bicycle for a ride is already sufficient. If there are no proper forest trails or pathways, action should be taken towards establishing them. Maybe your community needs a volleyball court? Or a football field? You do not even realise these places are missing if you are sitting at home on the couch, so you need to get out of the door one way or another.

Sporting events that make people think more about moving take place every year. For example, last year during the European Football Championship in Ukraine and Poland, both countries went through an extensive health education programme — basically, the big football celebration was used in order to coax those people to move who do not do so every day. Under the slogan “Respect your health!” football tournaments were organised in small communities and these did not require tremendous endurance and masterful bending skills, characteristic of “big” football. I participated in an international health camp in Poland, as a supervisor for Estonian substitute home children, and I admit that when the adults have created the opportunities, no young people ever say no to a ball game or any other game involving movement. The competition spirit evoked by competing with peers outweighs the glowing display any time. This was confirmed by these 300 young people of fifty different nationalities, who played football by different rules and in addition gained lots of knowledge on healthy lifestyle and nutrition.

Without the first running step or bicycle lap, there will be no second nor third; if the first ski lap is not accomplished, ski kilometres in a snowy winter remain just a dream. At SEB Heategevusfond, we try to offer movement possibilities to about a thousand children without parental care, who do not have the chance to attend public sporting events with their biological mother-father. We invite these children to major sporting events, from walking and running to skiing and cycling. We inspire them, so every child could taste the joy of movement and would eventually find his sport.

Each year, 150 substitute home children all over Estonia participate in Maijooks, thanks to our good benefactors. At the start of summer, for the second year already, we are organising a big football day at Lilleküla stadium, in cooperation with the Estonian Football Association, during which hundreds of substitute home children can play with football celebrities. In summer, children can go to football camps, in which they can move with peers, do sports, and practice ball games guided by professional coaches.

Experience from working with children without parental care has shown that children are reluctant to put their mobile phones away because they are simply bored. If you offer them an alternative, they are gladly willing to exit the virtual world. Providing movement options with a personal example is the simplest — and cheapest — way to make life interesting.

The health and well-being of myself and my family is in my hands. As a small nation, we constantly worry about our reproduction — but a sick and small population has even more trouble surviving. And as a personal example is important, I go to the shop for bread on foot, although in rain it would be more convenient by car — not forgetting my Wellingtons and rain coat.

Kati Käpp

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