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Child Development

JiggiJump on CBC Television

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Did you know that health specialists say children and youth should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day and only 9% of boys and 4% of girls actually meet those requirements? There is a new TV series JiggiJump focused on getting kids active. Airing Tuesdays and Thursdays on CBC Television across Canada, each five-minute episode of JiggiJump is dedicated to getting preschoolers moving as they follow entertainers Judy and David’s animated fantasy adventures. Judy and David know that video games and other electronics aren’t going to disappear. Instead of competing for children’s attention, the JiggiJump approach is to work with the mediums our children enjoy while encouraging physical literacy and love of movement through imagination, music and fun. We asked David to answer a few questions about physical literacy and the show.

Why is movement so important for young kids?

Kids are meant to move! It starts from a very young age and movement is tied to their whole physical growth and development.  This sedentary lifestyle we have is very unnatural and it is contributing to an epidemic of childhood obesity. There are now more overweight children then adults. Kids are 40% less active today than years ago so movement is more important now than ever.
How is JiggiJump's approach to physical literacy different from other approaches out there?
There are many attempts to motivate kids to get moving. One of the most common arguments is kids should move because it's good for you. This is the least effective motivator. A much more powerful motivator is imaginative play. And music: music gets people moving. They have discovered a very specific link between the auditory cortex and the motor cortex. When you hear music with a great beat it really makes you want to move at a very deep neurological level. Imaginative play uses music and makes it fun - so we are taking a kid on an adventure to a wonderful fantasy location. Instead of saying "Let's run" and "you should because its good for you" we are saying "there is an alligator chasing us." We put them in the context of a great fantasy adventure and we put it all to music. We have developed this over the course of about 5 years with live audiences and our CDs and the effect is really like nothing I have seen in 20 years of working with young kids. They are all really moving and you see the power of it.
At WeeWelcome we talk a lot about getting out and living a fun life on-the-go with kids. What might this involve from a physical literacy standpoint?

People have to let themselves off the hook a bit. You don't need to be a physical activity expert. This gives parents a license to play and imagine. Just go outside and run around. Say, "hey come on there is a herd of elephants chasing us." Plant ideas for imaginative play. JiggiJump can give you ideas about other stuff to do. It doesn't have to be tennis lessons or soccer, it can be running and jumping around: "let's be frogs around the living room and put on a great song." Buy a JiggiJump CD and do it with your kids. It's a chance to do things together with your kids.

We have also been talking a lot lately about creativity and kids. How do you think creativity (being so creative yourselves) and activity are linked and how does your approach foster both?

Kids live in a world of imagination and they don't have the same filters that we adults have put up artificially like saying to ourselves: that won't work or that is too silly. Those aren't the same concerns that a young child has. It is really about giving yourself license to think outside the box. What fun things can you do with your kids that can also get them moving? Use a child's power to think creatively and imaginatively. When we do that in a live concert they give a playful scream and start running. They feel that excitement. They are already living in a creative and imaginative space This can give us as adults license to be in the same place that they are.

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