PLAYGYM: Building Blocks For Life

Friday 2 February 2007, 12:44PM
By Fraser Mills
977 views , 1 comments

Encouraging a child to be active during early childhood can return huge benefits in later life and prevent numerous health problems.

GymSports New Zealand (formerly New Zealand Gymnastics) are launching a resource called PlayGym which is a resource of activities to develop both the brain and bodies of children under five years.

The PlayGym programme is designed to help every New Zealand child get active and be healthy. This programme combats sedentary lifestyles where too much TV and too little physical activity are linked to poor health, increased obesity and a type 2 diabetes epidemic in the younger generation. The lack of movement in early life is also affecting the standard of children in sport.

“Activities done in primary schools such as balance, coordination and other physical activities show through in the skills of the kids as they grow older. Whereas schools which don’t promote these activities as much are falling behind in sporting achievements,” said Tony Mordaunt, Coachforce officer at Badminton North Harbour.

Social change means busy lifestyles where time-poor parents may miss opportunities to play with our children - PlayGym consists of ideas and activities to stimulate learning and development while having fun.

“The need for physical activity in our preschoolers is not simply just to ward off the obesity epidemic. The link between quality physical movement expereiences and brain development is undeniable.

“The fact that movement benefits the whole child (not only their physical but their social, emotional and cognitive development) is really exciting. It’s even more exciting that it’s not rocket science to do this – it’s stuff parents can do at home with their kids for free,” said Jude Dobson, producer of kids TV show Nought to Five.

“In the 2006 TV series Nought to Five we focused on this every episode and the emails from parents and educators’ finding the information revolutionary. It is life changing stuff and high time quality movement was seen as a key part of a child’s learning.”

The PlayGym resource is a core part of an early childhood centre, parent/caregiver and gym programme for young children. The potential value of active play to children's growth and development has long been recognised.

Early participation in movement helps to develop children's personal and social skills, enhancing their confidence and self esteem as well as assisting with the development of the brain and body systems.

The PlayGym resource, consists of a series of cards in a folder, split into eight sections with hundreds of fun activities to stimulate the learning in children under five years. Further PlayGym resources are currently under development and will be available later this year.