A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series could be a great motivational tool for children to change their lifestyles and become healthier in terms of eating and exercise. But watching a TV show and logging on to a Web site may not be enough; kids who join the Healthy Challenge would probably benefit even more from a little guidance, support, and participation from parents and other family members. Having the whole family get into the act might encourage them to stick to their goal.
What's the story?
Nickelodeon's inspiring reality series LET'S JUST PLAY GO HEALTHY CHALLENGE follows tweens and young teens who embark on a quest to make their lives healthier. Each has decided on a specific health or fitness goal he or she wants to achieve, and experts -- health educators, physicians, psychologists, and celebrity role models -- provide support along the way. Nickelodeon checks in with the kids once a month, for a period of five months, to track their progress. The show is hosted by Nickelodeon stars Devon Werkheiser (Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide) and Miranda Cosgrove (Drake & Josh), who are also participating in the challenge and share their own ways of staying fit. They encourage young viewers to join the challenge by signing up online -- the Web site includes practical tips and tools to provide kids with tangible steps that can improve their health, as well as events, activities, and affiliate partnerships in local markets.
Is it any good?
Seeing real kids make lifestyle changes may very well motivate young viewers to make their own changes, and the show does a good job of getting viewers excited about the prospect of having more energy, feeling better, and being able to participate in a variety of activities. Better yet, it makes the changes seem possible. But the reality is that not every tween or teen who wants to participate in this challenge will have family support and guidance -- too many adults in the United States are clueless about nutrition and the importance of exercise, and they aren't about to change their ways, even for their children. That's where the online component of the Healthy Challenge can help, to some degree; the Web site includes a message board where kids can support each other and share tips. It's not a perfect substitute for parental guidance, but it's something.
It should be noted that while the show's young male host, Werkheiser, is energetic and fun to watch, his co-host, Cosgrove, seems to be just going through the motions and reciting lines, as if she's being forced to do the show and isn't really "into" the challenge. In future seasons, the series might benefit from a bit of recasting -- perhaps someone a bit warmer and more engaging. Overall, though, Nickelodeon and Let's Just Play Go Healthy Challenge have admirable intentions -- if the show can truly help instill lifestyle changes in young people, it may create a healthier new generation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about kids' current eating and exercise habits, and whether they think they need to make any changes. What do you usually eat for meals and snacks? Do you think you have a balanced, nutritious diet? How much television do you watch per week? How much time do you spend on the computer or playing video games? Do you think this is too much? How much do you exercise during the week? Does it feel like enough activity? If not, what else could you do to become more active?
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