Our Obesity Problem
Yesterday I was reading about the issue of the large amount of people (including children) being overweight. According to www.news-medical.net, obesity and overweight people have in the last decade become a global problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO – www.who.int) back in 2005 approximately 1.6 billion adults over the age of 15 were overweight, at least 400 million adults were obese, and at least 20 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight. Experts believe if the current trends continue by 2015 approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese. The scale of the obesity problem has a number of serious consequences for individuals and government health systems.
This really is an alarming issue and I believe there is a desperate need to encourage our young and old to adventure outdoors more often. I believe that we can learn so much from each other and outdoor adventure programs are in essence designed to rejuvenate that love for the outdoors. So I wonder if you would agree with me by saying that: “Outdoor recreation could be the best obesity problem solver there is!”
We must keep our children or students active while learning. However, there is a desperate need to keep ourselves active too, how else are we to keep up with these fit youngsters and continue teaching them? We need to live by example and being fit and active ourselves is a good thing. Most teachers look for an opportunity to develop teambuilding skills with their students and to push them beyond their boundaries in other words, to help them learn new skills outside their familiar surroundings. Bearing that in mind, using outdoor adventure learning camps to facilitate these learning outcomes would have to be the ideal choice.
I was reading the other day on the NSW Department of Education and Training web site (www.det.nsw.edu.au/ ) that the educational value and purpose of activities should deliver the following: “Engage and challenge all participants to discover and develop their individual talents and capabilities for lifelong learning. Develop positive self-concepts for all participants. Encourage active, effective and responsible participation for all participants. Respect the importance of moral, ethical and spiritual differences for all participants. Implement the enjoyment of learning for all participants and encourage them to be self-motivated, reflective, competent learners. Promote a fair and just society that values diversity and assist with the continuity and coherence of learning, and facilitate the transition between learning levels for all participants.”
I guess easier said than done would be the consensus here unless you can dig up an outdoor activity provider who will deliver all of the above and hopefully more. Personally, I believe that all educational activities should deliver academic, artistic, and social aspects in each program using a creative learning process. The emphasis here is on creativity, uniqueness and the ability for outdoor instructors to keep their participants for the entire length of time that the program runs for. If you have paid for a 4-hour canoeing session for your students, they should get 4 hours and not 2.5 or 3 hours. If you have booked in for a 4 hour low ropes session then your students should get that time and the instructor should not loose the group after a couple of hours or less.
Parents pay a lot of money for these outings and they should get value for money. Teachers spend a lot of time organising these camps so they too should get value for their effort. Simply put… you should get value for your money so search for the right place to take your students because if you don’t…. you or your students will not have benefited from any of these outdoor learning activities from these providers.
Having looked at the statistics for obesity and the general decline of health for school children one must wonder if outdoor learning should be taken more seriously. According to the Outdoor Learning Org. (www.outdoor-learning.org/) outdoor learning is really a very broad term which includes outdoor play in the early years, school projects, environmental education, recreational and adventure activities, personal and social development programs, expeditions, team building, leadership training, management development, education for sustainability, and even adventure therapy.
I would have to agree with Outdoor Learning Org. in that outdoor learning does not really have a clearly defined boundary however, it does have one common core in that all forms of outdoor learning value direct experience. This experience is in stark contrast to the indoor classroom. I believe that outdoor learning is the process of active learning in the outdoors. With active learning I mean that participants learn through what they do, through what they are confronted or challenged with and through what they discover.
They learn about the outdoors, they learn about themselves and about others while also learning outdoor skills through investigation, experimentation, providing feedback, reflecting on happenings, reviewing situations and of course team building and cooperative learning. Looking at all of this I think that most readers would agree that outdoor learning is true learning because participants use natural environments to see, hear, touch and smell the real thing. They use actions that will deliver and experience results and consequences. Outdoor learning provides for participants to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities. They have to manage risks, cope with change, behavioural issues and have the potential to discover abilities and interests they didn’t even realise existed.
In a nutshell… outdoor learning can help to bring classroom-based subjects alive, stimulate unexplored interests and in essence is not limited. Of course the most important issue with any outdoor learning activity are the safety codes and codes of conduct. These safety codes and codes of conduct are usually found in a business’ Child-safe Child-friendly Policy and Code of Conduct statement and provides clear boundaries and should be adhered to at all times by all participating school children but should also be adhered to by teachers, parents, caregivers, and activity providers with no exception.