Children are the future of society, but they are also the ones most vulnerable to its deficiencies. Luckily, a growing number of programs work tirelessly to protect and nourish our youth.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 11.9 million people under the age of 18 live in poverty, the highest rate for any age group in America. Disturbingly, while youth represent only 22.6 percent of the population, they make up 31.1% of those falling below the poverty line.
Organizations like Sips & Kicks tackle this issue in creative, multi-faceted ways.
Kicked off by a teacher/soccer coach dad in a high school cafeteria, Sips & Kicks offers fresh-made smoothies to students, consisting of nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables. Healthy dietary options are supplemented with educational material on optimal eating practices. Meanwhile, professionally-led soccer instruction offers a vigorous exercise component, an element that was instantly popular among kids of all ages.
“With fresh, healthy smoothies to drink and the joy, sweat, and teamwork of regular play and training, kids grew stronger, built physical and mental endurance, enhanced their communication skills, and gained more confidence,” Sips & Kicks state on their website. “In many schools, teachers and administrators reported that children’s physical and mental health improved . . .” Exercise, discussion, dedication, and teamwork enhanced the curiosity, self-confidence, and social and emotional skills of students on a wide scale, including in some of the country’s most impoverished areas.
Studies report similarly promising results from a wide variety of nutritional programs, and the benefits of physical activity on child development have never been more clear. Improving the health and well-being of our youth ensures a better future for everyone. We encourage our readers to get involved.