Fifty-six percent of children living in the Pacific Islands (ages 13–15) are overweight or obese. An unbalanced diet and lack of exercise are having a direct impact on the increase of non-communicable diseases throughout the region. Providing children with a positive first experience in physical activity and encouraging them to engage in sports throughout their lives is a crucial objective.
In the first 10 years of life, children develop preferences and learn to make choices that will affect the rest of their lives. Children who have a positive first experience in physical activity are more likely to develop good exercise habits and to participate in physical activity throughout their lives.
Just Play motivates children to be physically active by making each session fun and by encouraging everyone to participate. Just Play delivers key messages through interactive games and activities that encourage children to make healthy food choices.
In the short run, boys and girls enjoy physical activity and have fun during Just Play sessions.
Through Just Play sessions, boys and girls also understand the importance of eating healthy and making the right food and drink choices.
Since boys and girls have fun during Just Play sessions, they start to change their perception of sport and become more active through encouragement. They also start making better food and drink choices – for example, they prefer to drink water instead of having sugary fizzy drinks.
It is expected that boys and girls are physically active on a regular basis, and they change their perception about sport and want to continue to be involved in sports and physical activity at the end of Just Play sessions.
Boys and girls will continue to make healthy food and drink choices even after Just Play sessions end as this becomes a habit. Healthy habits are fostered in children and it is expected that they will carry these habits with them as they transition into adulthood.