Why it's not all about the fat kids – let's celebrate the fit kids too
PUBLISHED: 12:16 04 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:54 04 October 2018
Why point at the fat kid when you can applaud the fit kid? asks Jo Malone
When will they stop making parents feel rubbish?
“They” being anyone who tries to tell us we’re not trying our best for our children; not just the government, some councils and some schools, but very often, other parents and the general public.
It’s about to be ‘let’s make you paranoid about your size’ time for my year six daughter Keola, with the return of the team from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). Everyone was weighed and measured age four-five in their Reception year and now it happens again in year 6.
But it’s all about identifying the fat kids apparently and inviting them to special sessions to help move them from fat to fit. The information from the NCMP barely mentions the vast numbers of healthy children or sound at all worried about the underweight ones, the children developing eating disorders because all they hear is talk about ‘the obesity problem.’
Surely if you have a fat and unhealthy child you know you have a fat and unhealthy child. You don’t need someone else to highlight it, and if you wanted to do something about it you would.
Why point the finger at the overweight kid? Why can’t we celebrate the healthy children, and make it easier, and cheaper, for everyone to be fit and healthy?
There are thousands of active children. They’re at gymnastics, athletics, climbing, football, swimming, netball, rugby, cycling and so on. Their parents have put them on waiting lists for this club or that activity and made sure that once they get a place they get there with the right kit at the right time, week after week.
Let’s give those children some credit.
Some train for hours before and after school every week and while some achieve competitively, sport isn’t just for that. It’s about belonging, communicating, about working to get better and seeing that you improve if you put the effort in. It’s making friends, it’s working as a team, it’s getting back up when you fall down, it’s about valuing the achievements of yourself – and others.
We were at the UEA last weekend for a gymnastics competition; it involved dozens of children representing their clubs and competing throughout the day. Elsewhere at the Sportspark we saw youngsters doing martial arts, dance, badminton, swimming and running. It was busy: it was full of people loving sport.
We know that besides these children competing, there are many more at their clubs who perhaps don’t compete but do work hard every week, enjoying sport and developing their skills and characters.
There are a vast amount of fit children. Let’s make some noise for them. Let’s make sport even more inclusive and encourage more clubs, more coaches and more facilities so the parents of the not-so-fit want their children to feel that joy too – and find that it’s easy for them to get involved.
Isn’t that better than banging on about obesity and pointing fingers at parents, suggesting they’re so dim they need someone else to tell them their child is fat?