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Hee: Communities owe it to kids to keep them active

One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that our community has to do something about obesity, a problem rampant among children and adults.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, “Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, putting kids at risk for poor health. Despite recent declines in the prevalence of obesity among preschool children, obesity amongst all children is still too high,” as stated in a CDC report using statistics from 2011 to 2014. For children ages two to nine, the figure is at 17 percent or 12.7 million children.

And it is worse in areas of poverty, according to the same report.

“Obesity disproportionately affects children from low-income families,” the report said. “Where in 2014, 14.5 percent of the WIC (Woman, Infants and Children) participants aged two to four years of age had obesity.”

So what can we do about it? I am not going to ramble on about the need for more participation in organized sports. Organized sports has its place.

The reason being, that at the high school level we are looking at the elite of our town. We put our best athletes up against other communities. It is a showcase and reward for those who have dedicated themselves to their sport and it should continue to be so. Besides, there are other ways.

I struggled to write this. I was thinking about a piece on staying active during the winter months. And after a couple of days of writing on that I got to thinking of obesity in general, and then that evolved into obesity with children in general.

I got to thinking of the causes and this led me to a movie that Disney put out called “Wall-E,” a 2008 animated film about the adventures of a futuristic robot. It was a social commentary on what can happen to a society that relies too much on technology. In it, grown adults are so obese that they require carts to move around in. They can’t even walk. Don’t we see the beginnings of this today? Then I went to Walmart, and I saw a person in a cart. It got me to thinking, how did that person end up there? Technology? Maybe. I am certainly not slamming people who have to use carts at Walmart. Instead, I am trying to get at the root causes of obesity in our society.

The overwhelming consensus with teachers that I have talked to is video games and phones. Technology appears to be part of the answer. The teachers tell me kids rely on it for entertainment just too much. Something they didn’t do 25 or 30 years ago.

But should the kids take all the blame? How many parents have their kids walk to school? Oh, but it’s not safe out there.

Well shoot, that’s the whole reason I came to Pahrump, less crime and people. How many parents rely on the TV to entertain their kids? I think we coddle our kids a bit.

But what can we do to help this situation?

I had a conversation with several school administrators at all levels, and they are all telling me a game changer can be coming to this town. That game changer is a community recreation center for all ages. This will have a gym, possibly tennis courts and even workout space. This is where our fractured community comes together and supports this thing. The school wants to build it at the high school. The advantages of this would be the community gets to use this when school is not in and that includes the tennis courts and track. The school district believes it will be a win-win for the entire community. And I think they are right on this one. The seniors even get a place to hold their Senior Olympics.

Also, the school district told me that Valley Electric wants to build one too. Could we get the two organizations to come together on this one? It’s possible, and some say they are talking already.

It would be a safe place for kids to be involved in recreational sports. Fun leagues where the kids can be with their friends and be active. It could be flag football, two-on-two basketball games, or just pick-up games and even organized tournaments. The bottom line is it would be organized fun geared to keeping young kids of all ages active.

Where would funds for that come from?

Believe it or not, the government has grants for that.

Whatever the outcome, the community must get involved. Remember the old saying about “it takes an entire village to raise a child”? That applies here. For the sake of our future and the kids, we must all get involved.

A parent once told me, “You know Mr. Hee, the generation of today is soft and I am not sure their kids will be able to take care of me when I am old, like I took care of my grandmother, and I am not sure I would want them to.”

That’s a sad commentary on our current generation and their kids that we can change now if we come together.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com. On Twitter @pvtimes

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