There’s nowhere to hide if you’re a fat kid in the West Midlands at the moment, as the government are trying every tactic in the book to coerce children into exercise at all costs.
“Fitness drive for children” reads an article in the Express & Star, heralding a new 12-week programme led by Walsall Council that aims to use boxercise and golf (?!) to put overweight kids ‘through their paces’. Run by Fun 4 Life (who receive their funding from ‘Active England’) this is billed as a ‘weight management clinic’, and offers children and their families advice on healthy eating and the opportunity to try new activities.
Presumably all attendees will be beamed in direct from the moon if they’ve managed to avoid the endless barrage of television programmes, commercials, newspaper articles, brochures and school lessons about how to enjoy a healthy lifestyle – the basic gist of which seems to go along the lines of ‘fewer sausages, more sit-ups’.
Nevertheless, they’ll be given the ‘opportunity’ to try some exercise which you’d think is something they’d been given by being born (presumably) with arms and legs. Surely those who want to exercise are already at liberty to go for a run, kick a ball, go for a swim etc? But no, such pursuits are clearly old-fashioned and ineffectual so instead the taxpayer must subsidise the presentation of new sports that are considered more likely to lure chubby children from their couches.
Is it really our responsibility to provide such facilities for those families who’ve had a negligent attitude towards food and exercise thus far? What rewards are there for healthy families who’ve never tipped the scales, or are they just expected to fund the army of council employees and health workers required to deliver this course? And is it completely beyond the capabilities of those families who do want to make a positive change to make it without being molly-coddled through the whole thing by public sector workers – are there not, after all, already free and subsidised council facilities in Walsall and beyond? Perhaps if they could have back the money it costs to run schemes like this families could afford to pay for their own exercise…
And there’s more. An expensively produced, bright yellow 4xA4 leaflet tumbled out of the Birmingham Mail (and perhaps every regional newspaper) this afternoon chiming in with the Walsall fat-fighting project. “Keep up and about this summer!” it screeched – ignoring the fact that most kids go back to school next week or the week after – in what they probably think is a ‘fun and cool’ font. Branded as ‘Change 4 Life’, this is a sort of factsheet that both corroborates and undermines the Walsall Fun 4 Life scheme by suggesting activities for kids to do that are both patently obvious and free.
The brain storming session in the Change 4 Life offices managed to come up with cycling, swimming, skipping, walking the dog, kicking a ball, along with sparks of genius like having a ‘boogie break’ (that’s dancing around for ten minutes). Once they’d finished they must’ve started the conversation about how to spend thousands and thousands of pounds publicising these innovative ideas.