According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity in the United States has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. With obesity being a current epidemic in the United States, there is an increasing need for active lifestyles. E-Sports are innovative, community-service based programs that aid in promoting active lifestyles among both typical and special needs children.
- Model and Move
Coaches teach children motor skills through a variety of exercises and demonstrations. Specifically during warm-up, children are taught to run at increasing speeds and stretch. Movements are demonstrated by volunteer coaches. As children attempt to mime actions demonstrated by coaches, the coaches aid to modify exercises to ensure every child can succeed. The simple activity teaches children to warm up muscles effectively to prevent injury, as well as prepares their bodies to conduct further exercise. The warm up also slowly integrates children into the program, easing anxiety and promoting excitement for the next activity.
- Fun and Run
E-Sports incorporates fun into exercise. Children will be active and have fun without knowing they are exercising. For example, one of my personal favorite drills is called “Turkey Feathers.” Children chase a coach or the turkey with bibs or colored pennies posing to be feathers surrounding their waist. As children are chasing the coach, they pull at their feathers. To children, this is an exciting game. However, Turkey Feathers also encourages children to sprint both with a soccer ball and without, ultimately increasing their heart rate.
- Excitement and Endurance
E-sports programs generally occur for one hour and include one or two water breaks. However, if children need extra breaks, such as sensory breaks, coaches make sure each child’s breaks are altered according to their needs. The programs encourage children to build up endurance. In other words, the amount of physical exercise or participation in the program from the beginning is encouraged to build up over time. As a head coach, I have seen children who attend E-Sports build up excitement. Consequently, the excitement encourages children to grow and participate more. E-sports works to encourage children no matter their physical, mental, or emotional limits to succeed and reach personal goals.
Not only does E-Sports help children to run, but also refine basic skills that involve coordination. For example, at E-Soccer, dribbling involves coordination of the feet and eyes. As a child watches the ball move, they learn to process to tap the ball while running as well. Children come with different levels of coordination skills into the program, but drills ensure each child is challenged to grow.
- Trials and Teamwork
Depending on the child, they may face difficulties when participating in E-sports. These difficulties may include physical limits or social skills. However in the end of the programs, E-Sports encourages teamwork to overcome these limits. Specifically, E-Soccer ends with a scrimmage or a team-building activity. Although some children may contribute to the game more than others, each child is encouraged to participate. For example, in a soccer scrimmage, if the pace of the game is too fast for a child to participate, coaches will slow down the game. Coaches will ensure every child can participate and succeed.
For additional resource read 10 Types of Recreational Therapy to Help Your Child with Special Needs