Each year, the YMCA celebrates Healthy Kids Day at several of its U.S. facilities. And its main intent is to promote health and fitness for children in the run-up to summer, when school is over and kids are ideally more active.
Reports of events for the 25th annual Healthy Kids Day across the U.S. have emerged over the weekend. In Decatur, Illinois, children took part in basketball free throw contests, volleyball games, and swimming. They also engaged in coloring activities, and younger kids got to play in a bounce house. The University of Illinois Extension also pitched in, teaching parents and their children about healthy snack alternatives and gardening.
According to YMCA Decatur CEO Matt Whitehead, Healthy Kids Day and the presence of the Y in general are important, considering how childhood obesity is becoming more and more prominent these days. “Kids don’t want to come and do 50 jumping jacks,” he said. “We try to create opportunities for them to have physical activity and make it fun for them, and then we also try to educate them on healthy eating.”
In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, over 100 children took part in Healthy Kids Day, with the main activities including dancing, storytelling, swim safety sessions, boxing, healthy cooking demonstrations, face painting, and a variety of games. The interactive Sports Wall allowed kids to hit light-up targets with a ball, or with their hands and feet, while the Imagination Playground featured life-sized Lego blocks made out of foam. Interestingly, there was also a bubble wrap play area, which YMCA wellness director Lauranel Banks believes “helps children on the autism spectrum.”
Additional activities included Wilkes University students lecturing children about deadly household poisons, on top of general health and nutrition pointers. Kids had a chance to practice “medicine” on teddy bears, using a stethoscope on the toy bars and giving them pretend-vaccines.