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Expertise of parents, coaches, community leaders sought in fixing lack of physical activity in kids

Michael Mroziak

How can Western New York fix the lack of physical activity among its kids? Two local foundations are looking for your help finding the answer.

This week, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will host three community conversations. At each, they’ll present the “State of Play” report, addressing youth sports and play across the region.

“We are inviting anyone who is interested – parents, coaches, community leaders, and interested members across the eight counties – to share their thoughts on the state of play in Western New York,” said Community Foundation Executive Vice President Betsy Constantine.

With the help of the community, the two foundations hope to start finding solutions to some rather striking issues identified in the report which was researched and completed by the Aspen Institute. High among them is that only 16 percent of local kids are getting the recommended hour or more of physical activity each day.

“If we could get that number from 16 to 25 percent of youth, for instance, it would mean a reduction of 7,488 fewer overweight and obese youth, which would translate to $127-million of direct medical costs averted, and $135-million of productivity losses averted,” said Constantine.

Found to contribute to the low percentage is was that while previous generations spent playtime in neighborhood yards and streets, parents today are no longer comfortable letting their children play unsupervised.

“Safety is a huge concern in neighborhoods across the country, and certainly in Western New York we hear that as well,” said Constantine. “But at the same time, parents and kids recognize the value of the freedom of being able to go out and make up your own rules and play just for fun.”

Constantine expects free play will be a priority topic at the meetings.

The community conversations are free and open to the public and will include a light meal. They will take place Tuesday, November 28 at the Holliday Valley Lodge in Ellicottville from 5:00-7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, November 29 at The Dale Association in Lockport from 5:00-7:30 p.m.; and Thursday, November 30 at the WNED-TV Studios in Buffalo from 12:00-2:30 p.m.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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