For me, it’s always been important to keep my kids healthy and active. I’ve paid attention to what they eat. I’ve encouraged and participated in physical activities with them. I’ve made sure I’m always available to simply listen to the things that they want to tell me. Honestly, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at teaching my kids good habits. That’s why it was such a shock to me three weeks ago when my oldest son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It’s changed the way I look at keeping my kids healthy and active, especially during school breaks. Now, I need to explain that Type 1 Diabetes does not have a cure and cannot be prevented. My son and I have both learned that we did not “do something wrong” to cause this diagnosis. Put simply, he has an autoimmune disorder that causes his body to attack his pancreas. After we came to terms with the fact that neither he nor I caused this to happen, it was easier to sit down and look at the lifestyle changes that we needed to make to keep him healthy everyday, but more importantly to me during this time of year, when he’s not in school and participating in school activities. For us, looking at ways to keep him healthy and active caused us to look at ways that his brother could do the same and from that we discovered that regardless of his diagnosis, he’s just like any other kids when it comes to the way he needs to live his life!
Now, in case you’re thinking that the information I’m about to share is Type 1 Diabetes related only and close out this post, let me stop you. I’m going to tell you why staying active, eating right and loving themselves is important for each and every child out there. My son is no different. We’ve just added an extra level to the complexity of our lives. However, as I’ve looked into the things that I need to do to keep him healthy, I’ve discovered that the same principals that have been used for years with the Boys & Girls Clubs Triple Play program are even more important now for my son. During the holiday season, when school breaks are in abundance, it’s even more important for me to implement these principals into the lives of BOTH of my boys and I’m going to tell you why.
What are the Boys & Girls Clubs?
I think pretty much everyone has at least heard of the Boys & Girls Clubs but just in case you haven’t, their mission is to provide a save, fun and affordable place for kids to go during out-of-school time to connect with caring, trained professionals and engage in enriching programs and activities. While my children are not among the 4 million teens and kids that are served annually at the more than 4,300 Boys & Girls Clubs in communities across the country, as a mom who struggles with keeping her kids active and engaged during school breaks, I have such a respect for what they are doing. I love that their mission is to enable all young people, but especially the ones who need it most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. They believe that every child deserves a great future and help youth reach their potential through academic success, good character & citizenship and healthy lifestyles. I adore the work that they are doing and have been familiar with the Boys & Girls Club for most of my life. However, they are not just giving back to those who come through their doors. Through the Triple Play Program, they are encouraging kids throughout American to have positive health and wellness habits!
What is the Triple Play Program?
All my life I’ve known that there are three key areas that need to be given attention in any person; mind, body and soul. The Boys & Girls Club is building on this knowledge and dedicating themselves to instilling positive health and wellness habits in America’s Kids through the Triple Play Program! While clubs encourage kids to eat right, keep fit and form positives relationships with themselves and others, these same principals can be applied to any child, whether they are close to a Club or not. So how does it work? Within the Clubs, smart nutritional choices, active lifestyle and self-confidence are all important areas of focus. This Triple Play Program that has been created in partnership with the Anthem Foundation and The Coca-Cola Company is helping Boys & Girls Clubs of America to encourage kids and teens in Clubs across the country to live their fullest life! It helps give them the tools and education they need to lead of a life of healthy and wellness, setting them on a path to a great future! By implementing the same Triple Play approach with my kids, both during the school year and on breaks, I’m able to take the program that is working so well for Boys & Girls Club and use it to find ways to keep my kids healthier as well!
How Can I Keep My Kids Active and Healthy During School Breaks?
Now that I’ve shared how the Boys & Girls Club is using the Triple Play Program to keep kids at their Clubs healthy during school breaks, the question becomes how can we all do the same? And the answer is actually quite easy!
Teach Smart Food Choices
I’ll admit that I’m pretty particular about what my kids eat, especially since my oldest son’s diagnosis. However, I know that things tend to get a little lax during the holiday season. There is more eating out. More snacking. More temptation to make bad choices. However, just as Boys & Girls Clubs are doing, I’m encouraging my kids to know the value of how a balanced meal can fuel their bodies. I’m encouraging them to snack smarter eat smaller portions and pay attention to what’s on their plate.
I challenge them to have a plate that’s half filled with non-starchy vegetables and fruit. I encourage them to try new lean proteins. I’ve even switched out most of our grains for whole-wheat and brown rice based products.
In addition to this, I’m leading by example and making sure my plate is filled with a balanced meal so that they will see that I’m walking the walk with them!
Encourage Physical Activity Each and Every Day
Trust me when I say that I know how hard it is to get kids to do much besides play video games during school breaks. My boys are both usually so worn out by this time of the year that they want to rest. While I think rest is important on school breaks, it’s equally important to me that they get enough physical activity each and every day! On snowy days this might mean going to the indoor trampoline park or the bowling alley. More often it just means getting outside and playing ball or going for a walk.
By participating in physical activities with my boys, I find that it’s easier to inspire them to get out and get active! In general though, we have a hard and fast rule that we spend at least an hour a day during school breaks being active.
While food and exercise are pretty easy changes to make, staying connected and making sure my kids’ emotional health is where it needs to be is perhaps most important to me. Having a teen and a first grader, it can be hard to find ways that we can all connect. I’m often amazed at how big of a difference simply sitting down and talking can make! Taking one-on-one time with each of the kids as well as making sure they are friends to interact with during school breaks seems to help keep them happy and engaged.
By sitting down one-on-one with the boys we can come up with goals for them, get a feel for how things are going and simple help them be the best that they can be! While for us, doing these things at home works, there are many families that could benefit from a perfect place to help their kids meet their goals during their time out of school!
How to Find a Boys & Girls Club Near You Today
During the time that kids are out of school, it can often be hard to find places for them to go that encourage good habits and a healthy lifestyle! Thankfully, the Boys & Girls Clubs are a perfect location for kids of every age and background! In addition to providing after school services and summer camps, many Boys & Girls Clubs offer extended hours during school breaks! Find a Boys & Girls Club near you by clicking here.
Whether you’re looking to find a Boys & Girls Club for your child or simply want to instill the basic principals of the Triple Play Program in your own kids’ lives, make sure to learn more so that you can help your kids stay healthy and happy all year round but especially during holiday breaks!
Tell me, do you have experience with the Boys & Girls Club and how do you incorporate the Triple Play Program concepts into your child’s life?