•Health and fitness professionals can protect young children from disease and other risks while making sure they reach their fullest potential by recognizing the effect of daily physical activity, positive childhood experiences, and family lifestyle habits on wellness.
•By encouraging imaginative play with lots of expressive movement, young children can improve physical skills and other dimensions of wellness as they explore their environment, socialize with friends, learn from each other, create new games, and cope with challenges.
Wellness is not merely the absence of disease but rather a state of physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual well-being that optimizes development and provides an opportunity for young children to reach their fullest potential. Because early childhood is a time of rapid growth and a critical period for developing healthy behaviors, girls and boys should participate daily in developmentally appropriate physical activities that support all dimensions of wellness. The first responder program illustrates creative ways to meet the needs and interests of young children through imaginative firefighter play. Because emerging technologies are changing the way today’s youth play, socialize, and think, concerted efforts are needed to protect a young child from disease and other risks while providing opportunities that influence overall wellness throughout the growing years.