Cable Takes On Youth Obesity

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The following was submitted as an example of what one cable programmer is doing to address the growing problem of childhood obesity.

The cable industry has never been shy to take on new challenges and make important differences in the communities we serve. We at ESPN are very proud to be part of an industry that addresses a variety of issues such as health, workplace diversity and education, and that provides important programming and communication tools that significantly impact people’s lives for the better.

A major issue that’s receiving attention in the news just about every day is obesity and the decline of physical activity among youth in our country. According to the U.S. surgeon general and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the majority of American youth are not physically fit and face serious health problems. In fact, participation in all types of physical activity declines strikingly with each rising grade level.

At ESPN — with the support of DisneyHand, the worldwide outreach division of The Walt Disney Company — we developed a program and materials to address this issue in a compelling way. The program is called ESPN Play Your Way.

Play Your Way is a youth fitness initiative that empowers kids to find their own ways to be physically active. The initiative taps into both the power of play and the power of sports while appealing to a wide range of kids, especially those least motivated by organized sports.

We have spent over a year researching, testing and building easily accessible tools for kids aged 9 to 14 and for their parents, teachers and supervisors. All the programs that support Play Your Way fall under the categories of “Games to Play, Places to Play and Stuff to Play With” — barriers that often prevent kids from participating in physical activities.

Take a look at the dynamic materials for yourself at www.espnplayyourway.com.

Among the programs highlighted on the Web site are Physically Active Games or “PAGs.”

The PAG program encourages kids to have fun using their imagination to create new physically active games that can be played individually or within a group. The site has guides which can be easily downloaded to help parents, supervisors and kids get started.

They can use the Play Your Way PAG Playbooks for Kids or the PAG Club Start-Up Guides, designed especially for parents, teachers and supervisors, which suggest activities for kids to create PAG Clubs and how to incorporate PAG Clubs into community and after-school programs.

We can also teach them how to exercise or stretch while watching their favorite TV shows.

Play Your Way already enjoys the support of many nonprofit organizations and sports leagues. These various organizations plan to collaborate to provide program development resources, fitness consultation and/or participation in events.

ESPN is committed and well positioned to lead the corporate charge to encourage children to get fit and remain physically active. We hope you’ll join us in promoting a healthier and more active lifestyle for kids — it’s easy to do.

Together we can make a difference in getting kids active.

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