Swedish royal couple encourages kids to move with dance video: 'Together we must take responsibility'

Physical activity is important for children, but between school, work and pandemic life, it’s a stretch for many families to squeeze it in. That is unless it’s fun.

A new campaign, released Tuesday by the Swedish monarchy, inspires kids to move through dance. Titled “Dance 10.000,” the video follows prodigy Lilyana Ilunga, 9, who dances through her school day, even on public transportation, while sporting a sparkly pink backpack and a positive attitude. Along the way, she has a quick dance-off with the “school janitor” played by Gaspard Augé of the French EDM group Justice (whose 2007 hit “D.A.N.C.E.” was updated for the campaign). In the end, Lilyana collapses happily on her bed, sneakers smoking.

The performance, choreographed by French dancer Sabrina Lonis, proves that kids can be active, even on an average day.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - OCTOBER 01: Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden visit the Maxim Theater on October 1, 2020 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Maxim Theater is one of the many local businesses struggling because of the restrictions on gatherings of over 50 people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images)
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden. (Photo: Michael Campanella/Getty Images)

The global initiative was created by the non-profit organization Generation Pep, founded by Prince Olof Daniel and Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and headed by heptathlon (track-and-field) champion Carolina Klüft.

"We created Generation Pep because we saw that children and young people are physically inactive, a problem that is both worldwide and growing,” HRH Prince Daniel tells Yahoo Life. “Together we must take responsibility and immediate action to give all children a chance to live an active and healthy life. It can’t wait.”

Lilyana tells Yahoo Life, "I can relate very easily to the story of this young girl who can’t help moving around and dancing. I’m very unhappy when I can’t dance, especially these days."

Lilyana Ilunga, a 9-year-old dance prodigy, stars in a new campaign by the Swedish monarchy to get kids moving. (Photo: Generation Pep)
Lilyana Ilunga, a 9-year-old dance prodigy, stars in a new campaign by the Swedish monarchy to get kids moving. (Photo: Generation Pep)

Taking 10,000 steps is a widely-accepted daily goal for adults, a number proposed (unscientifically), by a Japanese pedometer company in 1965. And while the goal is not officially endorsed by the latest U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines (which proposes that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise), just getting close to 10,000 steps can reduce one’s risk of death from cancer or heart disease, showed one March study published in JAMA. The government organization also recommends that children ages 6 to 17 get 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous movement, even in short bursts.

Physical activity, along with a healthy diet, can also reduce childhood obesity — according to the World Health Organization, in 2019, 38 million children below the age of 5 were classified as overweight or obese.

However, Generation Pep doesn’t take a hard line over 10,000 steps, a goal that’s unique to every family’s lifestyle.

“We know that children and young people in many countries don’t get enough exercise, a trend that unfortunately seems to have worsened during the pandemic,” Klüft said in a press release. “But the important thing isn’t the exact number of steps or 10.000 steps in particular, but to get moving a little every day. Every step counts.”

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