2 Your Health: Kids use the power of play to get outside, stay active

Published: Feb. 26, 2019 at 8:17 AM AKST
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It was all hi fives and cheers as elementary students from the Anchorage School District walked through the door at the Special Olympics headquarters.

PLAAY Day, which stands for Positive Leadership for Active Alaska Youth is a synchronized, statewide event that encourages the importance of physical fitness in youth.

"I think that kids can't live up to their full potential and learn well unless they are physically active," said parent Leah Boltz who watched as her daughter participated in the day's event.

Dr. Michael Yogman, a Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, was also in attendance and in town to talk at a summit specifically about the power of play.

"Play is not frivolous, it's really critical for children's brain development, for their emotional development, for their executive function skills and for their resilience," he said.

But what happens if you take play away? Whether it be budget cuts or other loss of programs, what's the trickle down affect to kids?

"I think it would have a huge impact on particularly actually on academics," said Boltz.

"I think they're not going to learn as well, they're not going to pay attention," added Dr. Yogman.

Others in the health field see it as an opportunity to embrace the challenge.

"How do we really be thoughtful about what's important to preserve and what are creative ways to make sure that these are part of our children's lives whether or not it cost any money," said Dr. Lily Lou, Chief Medical Officer at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Dr. Yogman suggests turning off the screens and going for walks, just as long as you're moving.