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Saturday, October 8, 2016, 00:39

Survey shows kindergartens lack sufficient play time


HONG KONG - Only about 1 percent of Hong Kong kindergartens plan daily activities with sufficient play time for children, a survey by a sports association revealed on Friday.

The Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China (HKPFA) conducted research during the last academic year on 14,730 young children aged 3 to 6 at 89 kindergartens in the city.

It found almost all local kindergartens failed to meet relevant suggestions from overseas experience. These require full-day kindergartens to provide at least 120 minutes of physical activity per day for health benefits, as well as 60 minutes a day for children at half-day kindergartens.

Most local parents do not encourage young children to exercise more either. Only 18 percent of parents surveyed arranged daily outdoor activities for their children in gardens or sports grounds, the survey found.

The time children spend on physical exercises during weekends and holidays is 22 percent less than during school hours, the survey showed.

“Lack of physical play damages kids’ health,” Joanne Chung Wai-yee, a professor of health studies at the Education University of Hong Kong said on Friday. “We should make exercise a habit, not only for the children, but also for parents and teachers.”

She highlighted the importance of positive communication and cooperation between family members. Chung said exercise is crucial to physical as well as mental health.

Chung said physical activities contribute to family harmony. “Family can help provide physical exercises in order to develop their desire to explore the world and their positive attitude leads to the establishment of good interpersonal relationships,” she said.

To encourage young children’s participation in physical play and raise public awareness on healthy lifestyles, HKPFA has launched a three-year physical educational project. It is called the “Keep-Fit Formula for Children” in 2015. It is the first united protocol for the physical fitness development of children in Hong Kong.

A series of cross-disciplinary physical fitness activities are developed in the project. Some 120 of them aim to provide physical fitness development classes for children. Moreover, family sports days are introduced to enhance their fitness levels, according to its official website.

Some 19,000 young children are expected to benefit through the project. A mother of a 5-year-old girl, surnamed Fung, said she benefited from the project. Fung told China Daily her daughter’s physical condition had improved after joining the program last year.

Fung’s daughter had serious bronchitis since she was 2 years old. “Doctors warned that the problems may lead to asthma,” she recalled. “My girl always had to bring medication and take it at the first sign of feeling sick.”

Fortunately, the girl has stopped using medicine and has recovered.

Fung praised the project as the main reason her daughter’s health is improving. She said physical exercise improved her daughter’s quality of life as well as her own.

“It is she who brings me out for physical activities every day now,” she added. “It helps us a lot.”

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