When I was three years old my mom ran a daycare center with my neighbor. It was held at their house and there were probably about ten other kids with us at the time. I spent most of my time there before and after school. We regularly participated in fun activities with one another. I specifically remember I loved to go outside and play in the backyard. We would go from the swings to the bikes to the monkey bars and back again. My mom used to call me a monkey because while we were out there, I was always climbing on something or swinging from something else.

I remember being in love with the swings. We would be able to play on them for hours. We would see who could go the highest or jump off and land the furthest away. We would push each other really high and run underneath before the person came back down. We also had monkey bars that we would climb across. Most of the time, however, we would climb on top of them or hang from them upside down. We were also creative and would make up games. Our favorite game was called “Danger.” The ground was lava and we would have to get from one side of the swing-set to the other without touching the ground. This involved us climbing over swings and bars and even each other. At the daycare we also had what we called bouncy bounces, which were basically bouncy exercise balls with handles on them. I also remember this being one of my favorite things to play with. We would sit on them and bounce around the yard trying to catch each other or knock each other over.

I grew up in a place where I was able to be active almost every day. If we couldn’t play outside, we would figure out something to do inside and it usually didn’t involve sitting in front of the T.V. I feel like I was lucky to grow up like that. Children now aren’t doing the things that I did when I was little. They don’t experience a lot of physical activity and it does affect their growth and development. Children now aren’t as strong and it’s sad to see that they don’t know how to be creative and make up a game outside. Half the time I was outside when I was little, I wasn’t playing a uniform game. We would just make something up and entertain ourselves for hours that way.

There were of course some risk factors. We would tackle each other and someone might accidentally get kicked or hit with a ball, but we were having fun and we got over it. I came home with bruises all over my legs, but it meant I had a fun day. We might have gotten hit by someone on the swing or pushed too hard and fell or tripped while playing tag. It was fun though. It made us strong and healthy. I definitely think that this way of childhood has a connection with the way I am today. When I have free time at school, I would rather go on the lawn and throw around a baseball than watch a show. I still stay active and spend as much time as I can outside. The best part is that now the kids that I grew up with and I get to teach the next generation of neighborhood children the games that we used to love playing outside.

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