Let's Move! national program coming to Liberty Hall this summer

By Jennifer Koach/Liberty Hall Published:

The Lets Move! Program: A First Lady Fights Childhood Obesity is coming to Liberty Hall this summer as part of the Lets Move! Museums & Gardens program, sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Lets Move! Museums & Gardens encourages the more than 17,000 American museums and public gardens to educate the public about healthy food and exercise choices through interactive exhibits, summer programs, and outdoor activities.  Liberty Hall is one of 10 Kentucky museums or gardens to participate in the program.  

This summer, LHHS will be offering a range of Lets Move! activities for the public. See the accompanying box for descriptions and registration details for all.

The first activity is the annual “Seeds, Weeds, and History Camp” and the deadline to register is Tuesday. Expanded to five mornings, June 18-22, the camp for children entering grades 2-5 will introduce children to the fruits, vegetables, and wildlife of Liberty Hall.

Campers will work in the vegetable garden, harvest fruits, purchase fresh produce at the Franklin County Farmers Market, and make healthy recipes from their purchases.  Campers will also spend a lot of time running around the grounds, participating in relay races and field day activities.

Different in the 1800s

Times have changed dramatically since the 1800s and thus we are facing struggles with obesity that didn’t exist then anywhere near modern levels. And because life expectancy is much longer than it was then, additional health problems develop because of obesity.

Exercising in the 1800s was a daily part of life, not something that the children had to schedule or think about. Mason, Orlando, and Euphemia Brown would have spent their free time running around the four acres of lawns and gardens behind their house, chasing after each other and their pets.

To get from home to a friend’s house, the children would walk, not ride in a carriage or on horseback. And when they needed a refreshing break, they jumped into the Kentucky River for a swim rather than escaping into an air-conditioned house.

The foods the Brown family ate were different from ours as well.  In 1800, cane sugar was difficult to come by; as a result, the average American might eat only a pound each year, with affluent families, like the Browns of Liberty Hall, eating up to eight pounds per year.

When you compare that to the 150 pounds of sugar eaten by the average American in 2012, you can see a huge change that has helped lead to obesity.  The Brown children also ate more vegetables, ones that were grown on the property, and very little processed food.

A growing
problem now

The physical health of our nation, of citizens young and old, is a continuing problem for America today.  According to www.letsmove.gov, over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese.

The numbers are even higher in African American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40 percent of the children are overweight or obese. If we don’t solve this problem, one third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives. Many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma.

How did America reach these staggering statistics?

Two simple ways: we are eating more calories and we are exercising fewer of them off. Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner.

Meals were home-cooked and served in reasonable portion sizes; meals were also well balanced, with a vegetable always on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.

Today, life is different.

Less activity

Our level of physical activity as a nation, both among children and adults, is lower than it was 30 years ago.  Because of concerns about children’s safety, walks to and from school have been replaced by car and bus rides, and afternoons playing in the neighborhood “until the streetlights come on” have been replaced with hours of television and computer inside the home.

In school, gym class and after-school sports have been cut from schedules. Eight to 18-year-old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, including TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies, and only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity.

Our eating habits have changed as well.

We eater fewer and fewer meals at home, relying on fast food restaurants for a quick and easy meal. Snacking between meals is now commonplace. Thirty years ago, children ate just one snack a day, whereas now they are trending toward three  – and one in five school-age children has up to six snacks a day.

Portion sizes have also exploded – they are now two to five times bigger than they were in years past! Beverage portions have grown as well. In the mid-1970s, the average sugar-sweetened beverage was 13.6 ounces compared today, kids think nothing of drinking 20 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages at a time.

In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were 40 years ago  – including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats 15 more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.  

The good news is that with a little work and will, we can change these statistics.  Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama on Feb. 9, 2010, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.

Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years. Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. Helping kids become more physically active.

Information from www.letsmove.gov


Lets Move! activities

Here are activities that are part of the Lets Move program. More information about all events and programs can be found at www.libertyhall.org.

Seeds, Weeds, and History Camp, June 18-22.  Campers will learn all about the plants, animals, and people of Liberty Hall, from 1800 to the present; for children entering grades 2-5. Limited to 10 children; registration required by June 12; $60 per child ($55 for Friends of Liberty Hall).  Registration forms on www.libertyhall.org/events.

Sprinkler Saturdays, June 23, July 21, and Aug. 18.  Cool off on a hot summer day the old-fashioned way – by running through the sprinklers!  Kids (and kids at heart) can run free! Noon-2 p.m.

Hearthside Cooking Demonstration: Fresh From Our Garden, Aug. 18. We will be cooking the vegetables from the Liberty Hall vegetable garden using old-fashioned recipes and techniques, noon- 4 p.m.

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