Wednesday, March 23, 2011


By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager


If the few fleeting days of spring weather that we have experienced recently haven’t made you want to get off the couch, then you’d better check your heart beat. In downtown Elizabeth City walking and running traffic has picked up. Folks dressed in short sleeves have been strolling babies, taking pictures of the sights, enjoying their ice cream, riding bicycles, walking to lunch, and taking in the warm rays. Spring weather makes most people itch to get up and get out.

If you want to really experience spring fever go into any classroom on one of the warm days and watch the kids’ excitement and the teacher’s frustration at trying to keep them on task. Do you remember going home after school when you were young, grabbing a snack and rushing back out to play until supper time? Unfortunately that’s not the picture nowadays. Most students are in organized activities or hurry home to play video games until their parents come home.

According to recent studies, most children spend far too many hours involved with many forms of media and technology. Up to age 15, sixty-one percent of kids play video games every day. Girls are involved 5 hours per week while boys play an average of 15 hours per week.

As parents, grandparents, and educators we have to try a little harder to keep kids moving both in and out of school. Recess and physical education are not like they used to be. The philosophy now is to teach the kids that movement is part of the big picture of how to live a healthy life. My memory of P.E. classes where we did calisthenics for 30 minutes three times a week and were sore on the other days is a thing of the past, thank goodness. Students now learn about sports and activities that they can enjoy for a lifetime.

One of the definitions of the word “kinetic” is movement in response to stimulus. With that in mind, the Kinetic Kids exhibit at Port Discover will open on Saturday, April 2. The interactive exhibit and play space will feature three themed areas. The Scientist I Can Be exhibit will encourage children to assume the roles of health professionals and fosters this play with a variety of play acting costumes, toys, and tools. A Fitter Me space features an interactive and music-based exhibit that offers children guidance on healthy exercise activities. A Healthier Me exhibit includes a market and food preparation space that, by using play food, food labels, and utensils, teaches children how to make healthy food selections and control their portions.

We all want kids to keep that spring in their step well into the latter part of their lives. Showing them how to enjoy staying active and how to make healthy choices early in their lives is key to making that happen for them. We all need to get up, get out and get fit, and spring is a perfect time to start.

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