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Front Page » September 23, 2004 » Health & Fitness » Youth campaign designed to increase activity levels
Published 4,037 days ago

Youth campaign designed to increase activity levels

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Children can download ideas about jumping into new activities by visiting

If you are like most parents, then you know that getting your children physically active after school and on weekends is sometimes tough to do - especially when you are competing with the lure of video games and television.

But now comes good news from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - a new program with the aim of getting children more active and offering parents support to help children discover the joys of positive activities.

VERB�. It's what you do. is the slogan for the national, multimedia, multi-cultural campaign designed to show children how physical and prosocial activity can be fun, healthy and enjoyable, while displacing unhealthy behaviors.

"VERB is unique because it encourages children to participate in any activity they enjoy," says Mike Greenwell, director of communications for the CDC's chronic disease center. "While other well-known programs emphasize standard physical activities such as running, calisthenics and team sports, VERB encourages children to do their own thing, anytime, anywhere. We encourage children to find their own VERB or to try a new one - whether it's soccer, painting, ping pong, playing basketball or any other positive activity they want to try."

According to Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC, a major impetus for the program's development was the doubling of the number of overweight adolescents since 1980, resulting in a wave of health issues typically associated with overweight adults, like heart disease and Type II diabetes.


VERB is designed for children between the ages of 9 and 13, also known as "tweens." The campaign targets this age group because this is the age when adolescents begin to make critical choices that affect their health.

The program takes a practical approach to reaching tweens everywhere - in their homes, schools and communities - by promoting positive activities. Community events, celebrity endorsements, contests, promotions, events, Nickelodeon's Wild and Crazy Kids Tour, school activities and an interactive Web site are among the VERB activities that are happening across America to encourage positive activity. This complements a national advertising campaign, which promotes healthy physical activities. Greenwell says that the approach is designed to speak to tweens in their own language.



Meanwhile, experts in child development and physical activity are already touting the program for its modern approach to promoting physical activity.

Nikole Brown, a spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, says that an element of fun is required to get children physically active. "Children are not likely to become more active just because it's good for them," says Brown. "But VERB takes a very modern approach to communicating with children because it's inclusive of any and all healthy activities. Just one look at the advertising tells you that VERB is all about fun."

Tweens can learn more about the program by visiting Parents can learn more about the program by visiting


Parents and families are the most important factors in how children view positive activity. Following are a few tips for parents to consider as related to increasing children's physical activity levels:

• Be a physically active role model.

• Limit children's total entertainment media time to no more than one to two hours of quality programming per day.

• Encourage children to get 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day.

• Plan and participate in family activities that include physical activities, such as walking or bicycling together instead of driving.

• Include physical activity in family events such as birthday parties, picnics and vacations.

• Get your children involved in physical activity and sports programs at school and community centers.

(Source: Promoting Better Health for Young People Through Physical Activity and Sports: A report to the President from the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Education.)

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