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Kids need outdoor play
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Kids need to be walking to and from school. They need to go outside, feel the warm sun on their face, make pine needle necklaces and hollyhock dolls. They need to smash the berries from the honeysuckle plant and find dirt to drive trucks and make roads. They need to play hopscotch, neighborhood kickball, and hold their own track meets. Up from 5 percent years ago, one third of the nations children are carrying too much weight. This means that in the 1970s, five out of 100 children were overweight . For baby boomers thinking back on grade school classrooms, this number seems correct. Walk into a classroom today, and a far different landscape emerges. In a class of 20 kids, about seven will be overweight. The numbers are worse among African-Americans or Hispanics, 40 percent of children are obese. In a classroom of 20 kids, that would mean nearly half are overweight. The numbers do not improve with age. Forty percent of obese children and 70 percent of obese adolescents become obese adults. According to the surgeon general, one of every eight deaths in America is caused by an illness directly related to being overweight or obese. As a country, we eat too much fast food, when it would be just as easy to make a ham sandwich on wheat bread. We drink too much soda. Snacking between meals is now commonplace. Video games and television have replaced the outdoors for evening entertainment. There are numerous reasons for these societal changes. Mother and father work long hours and eating fast food is no longer a treat but a meal option. Kids spend the entire day home from school playing video games. When the faces of missing children appeared on milk cartons, we as a nation have become paranoid. The Department of Justice in 2010 reported that 797,500 reported missing, 203,900 were taken by family, 58,200 were taken by friends or acquaintances. Only 115 were the victims of a stereotypical kidnapping in the U.S. There were around 72,293,812 children in the U.S. according to the 2010 U.S. census. Remember only 115 were taken by strangers. According to the New York Times on May 23, 2011, the crime rate has dropped to the lowest rate in 40 years. There is a far more realistic fear. There is a good is that your child will die of a heart attack at age fifty or diabetes if the battle of the bulge begins at age 7. According to the Ellsworth Independent Reporter, at a recent outreach program promoting good health among students at Kanopolis Middle School has yielded some surprising results. According to the paper, the test results of 11 out of the 26 students (42 percent) participating in the Feb. 24 fasting blood draw showed elevated sugar and/or cholesterol levels. Now that the weather is as close to perfect as it gets in Kansas, it is the perfect time to send the kids outdoors. Karen La Pierre