Today’s Editorial October 01: Failing our children

The ancient Greeks figured out more than 2,000 years ago that there is a powerful connection between mind and body.

Neglect one and the other suffers.

Tragically, this lesson has been lost to the detriment of Cayman’s children.

An independent report on the quality of provision for physical education in schools in the Cayman Islands presents a disturbing picture of how our children’s health and fitness is valued in government schools.

According to this disturbing report, the majority of students at government schools are well below fitness levels expected for their ages.

‘Students do not achieve as well as they should in physical education,’ the report states bluntly.

Private schools are doing a better job.

One of the problems in Cayman’s government schools is an overemphasis on competitive sports and a lack of attention to activities designed to improve overall fitness for all students.

There needs to be a push to sell children on the concept of adopting a fit lifestyle.

Positive eating and exercise habits that are introduced in schools can last a lifetime.

Studies in the US have found that students who participate in daily exercise programmes are more likely to perform better academically than students who do not exercise.

It is nothing less than our moral duty to make sure that children learn how to appreciate and improve their bodies.

With youth culture now dominated by sedentary activities such as television viewing and video game playing, it is more important than ever for schools to instil both an understanding and a joy for healthy living.

Last week Education Minister Alden McLaughlin pledged to improve physical education programmes in government schools.

That is easy to say and hard to do, however.

Mr. McLaughlin will need to keep his eye on the ball to make sure that meaningful and lasting improvements are achieved.

He will also need sincere support from principals, teachers and parents.

It is encouraging that Grand Cayman’s new high schools are to have modern sports facilities, including gymnasiums and pools.

Infrastructure is only half the battle, however.

It takes talented and hard-working teachers, supported by committed administrators, to succeed. Let’s hope it does.

Our children’s health depends on it.

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