Parents, teachers urged to engage kids in exercise

Author: Beatrice Laryea
Prof Reginald Ocansey (left) and other dignitaries observing proceedings during the event

The 2018 Report Card on Physical Activity Levels of Children and Youth in Ghana has been launched with a call on parents, schools and all sectors of society to work together to engage in behaviours that will get children and the youth more physically active, which is the basis of sports development.

The report, which was launched by the University of Ghana, Active Healthy Kids Ghana Alliance (AHKGhA), indicated that seventy per cent of children in Ghana were not moving enough to maintain healthy growth and development which had contributed immensely to the major setbacks in sports development in the country.

It also revealed that urbanisation, mechanisation, increased use of motorised transport and excessive recreational screen time had changed physical activity levels globally hence the call to push back against such lifestyles.

The report determined grade assignments based on the best available data, research and key issue areas from the past two years.

The AHKGhA involved 20 experts who produced the country report card, grading 10 common indicators related to the physical activity of children and youth. The experts include Seidu Sarfo, Vida Nyawortnota, Richmond Aryeetey, Margaret Badasu, John Nartey, Mavis ASARE, Courage Adenyoh and Reginald Ocansey.

Speaking at the event on Tuesday at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, the Leader of the AHKGhA and head of Physical Education and Sport Studies Department of the University of Ghana, Prof Reginald Ocansey, questioned why the various parks and many recreational centres that were available in the past in various communities were no longer existed.

He noted that in the past there were mandatory physical education and playing time for schoolchildren but that practice was gradually dying off as most schools did not have playing grounds.

“We have a collective responsibility to change this because inactive children are at risk for adverse physical, mental, social and cognitive health problems. This generation will face a range of challenges, including the impacts of climate change, increasing globalization, and the consequences of rapid technological change,” he said.

“They will need to become habitually physically active in order to grow into healthy, resilient adults who can survive and thrive in a changing world. As a country, we need to rely on very different approaches to get kids moving and being mindful of the fact that physical activity is driven by our pervasive cultural norms. Being active is not a choice but a way of life.”

The participants in a photograph after the event

For her part, the Deputy Chief Sports Development Officer of the National Sports Authority, Vivian Dougblor, noted that physical activity was very important since it was tied to sports promotion.

“It is very important because it is tired to sports promotion but unfortunately the very foundation is weak so as a country we need to redirect our attention to the basis of sports development and promotion by encouraging our children and youth to be physically active in their daily endeavours.

Cynthia Wise, Deputy P E Director at Ghana Education Service commended the leadership of AHKGhA for the initiative saying: We are very happy to be part of this launch of the Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. We are grateful to know where the direction of physical education for our children and youth is running to so that we can work together to make it better.”

She added: “This is an eye opener and a sense of direction of how we can improve the physical activity of our children.”

In attendance was Mr Madiz Adamu Issah, a representative from UNICEF, Ghana.