The elephant in the room. How are we as an activity going to address the growing obesity and weight problem among youth in America and more specifically, the documented and well researched growing sedentary behavior of teenage girls in America? Do we have a responsibility and if so, what is that responsibility?
Let me start here. I work in the non profit industry on the government side. We have the money and the non profits want the money. I often get asked how a pageantry organization can get their hands on that money and my response is always the same. Stop thinking about funding your program and think about who in your program should be funded. Most guards are made up of girls. Girls have specific issues. Girls are on the high level of funding priorities right now. So what would I do? I would go after the money tied to the obesity epidemic and it's impact on women. Why would I do this? Because, colorguard in most nationally based programs and even most locally competitive programs are physically taxing and require just as much physical strength and endurance as any other sport women participate in. In my last blog post, the second in the series about girls and the sport of guard, I mentioned that we must stop calling ourselves an activity and call ourselves a sport. Calling colorguard a sport brings up images of discipline, fitness, and teamwork. Calling it an activity allows the parents, the kids, and the school to think it's just some run of the mill after school program.
So why the obesity epidemic? Currently in America, when it comes to females, more research is being conducted on physical activity and weight, than almost any other form of research being conducted on the genders and its impact on the future health of the country. It's a huge issue right now. Here are some basic stats from the Women's Sports Foundation Meta-Analysis on girls health released in April 2015:
- Among students in the 9th-12th grades, only 17.1% report being physically active and only 30.3% are getting daily physical education in schools
- Among 12-year old children, girls were found to be less physically active than boys. Puberty increases obesity in girls more than it does boys.
- A study examining trends in physical activity starting in 1988, demonstrates that the number of adults reporting no leisure-time physical activity increased greatly over two decades and the number is higher for woman than for men.
- Among children and adolescents aged 2-15, almost 17% of all children are considered obese (CDC)
- 1/3 of all U.S adults are considered obese
- in 2014, there was approximately $147 billion spent on medical costs associated with obesity in the U.S.
- Create a county wide initiative with other guards. Friendly competition so to speak. Something like, "How many miles did your guard run this season?"
- Work collectively as a community pageantry environment and share dollars in bringing in a personal trainer or dietitian before the band season starts and get as many kids in a gym as possible to listen to them speak.
- Get the kids to keep fitness journals. Sports teams do it all the time.
- Create a push up chart or plank chart. How long can the guard collectively plank? What's the average push up before the first person falls? Increase that number as the season goes on.
- Make every kid in the program buy a pedometer and wear it. It's a physical reminder of the importance of motion.