An open letter response to Mark Zuckerberg: This one thing can help all children, everywhere 

Congratulations, Priscilla and Mark, on the birth of your beautiful daughter.

The birth of a child is a gift of life, and as you realized, it is also a moment to reflect on what really matters.

As you embark on the beautiful quest of being a family, I applaud you for turning this intimate and personal event into a gift for the entire world.

At Active for Life we share your purpose, vision, and hope for our world. Like you, we are also passionate about a future in which every child has an equal chance at health, happiness, and accomplishment.

I would like to share with the three of you a simple thing that can help all children achieve this.

It’s called physical literacy.

Physical literacy is an essential foundation for health, wellness, and brain development. From the moment they are born, the ability to move is the key to the proper physical and brain development of all children.

As children grow, the ability to move is also critical to a better life. But in the last 20 years or so, a problem has emerged. Things have shifted dramatically. Kids aren’t learning how to move anymore, and the effects on their health and life are catastrophic.

I’m not talking about becoming professional athletes or Olympians, but about basic motor skills: the ability to run, jump, and throw. Like the alphabet is to reading, these are building blocks to moving well and with confidence through life.

As you partner with other parents, schools, health professionals, and governments, you can help them understand three things that will raise awareness of physical literacy. This one thing is an answer to many of the issues you want to solve for children around the world.

1. Kids are born with the capacity to move but not the skills. This has always been true, but unlike past generations, kids today don’t have the same opportunities to learn to move properly through play.

2. Kids who learn to move are more likely to be active throughout their lives. And active kids (and adults) are healthier and happier. They have higher self-esteem, have higher test scores (and higher annual earnings). They are at reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. They are less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

3. It’s not hard to help a child develop physical literacy. It’s simple. Make sure they are exposed to a variety of different games and activities, and both structured and unstructured play that is appropriate to their age. It takes a cooperative approach from all the adults in their lives, starting with their parents, but including their daycare providers and teachers, their coaches, and instructors down the road.

People are designed to move – it’s in our DNA. Being physically active makes us healthier, more creative and dynamic, and happier. Physical literacy is a gift shared between generations. One that is desperately needed in today’s world.

Richard Monette

Editor-in-Chief, Active for Life

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