First Coast YMCA Healthy Kids Day offers recipe for a healthy kid

File photo
File photo

Following a year of social distancing, virtual school, mask wearing and endless hours of screen time, the First Coast YMCA is hosting their annual Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, encouraging families to take a moment to help kids be kids.

While the in-person event will feature physically distanced activities and will be in accordance with CDC and state/local recommendations, the Y aims to provide a carefree day for children, celebrating what makes a kid, a healthy kid, YMCA officials said.

Children 5 and up will need to wear a mask except if they are outside doing high-intensity activities and social distancing.

“As adults, we know that 2020 was difficult on so many levels—it’s important to remind ourselves that as much as we try to protect our kids from worry, they faced many of those same difficulties. The Y is here for families, helping parents and kids recover both physically and mentally from a stress-filled year,” said Eric K. Mann, president and CEO of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “We believe in the potential of all children, and we strive to help kids find that potential within themselves. When a child is healthy, happy and supported, they can make great things happen.”

Select Y locations will host daytime events such as group exercise classes, arts and crafts, swim testing, cooking classes and STEAM activities to motivate and teach families how to develop and maintain healthy routines at home. Each location’s select activities are available by clicking the links below.

For those who wish to join in from home, the online event will start at 8 a.m. with a virtual 5K and have hourly activities, including a cooking class, teen talk, family trivia and a forensic CSI activity.

The virtual Healthy Kids Day events were planned and coordinated by teens involved in YMCA Teen Leaders clubs across Florida and will be incorporated at Y associations statewide. More details about the virtual schedule are available here. Activities can be viewed live day-of on April 24 on the First Coast YMCA’s Facebook page (facebook.com/FirstCoastYMCA/).

“We are so proud of our Florida teen leaders who have spent months planning and coordinating a fun morning of virtual content for kids and teens alike,” said Kimberly Green, Senior Program Director, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “We hope the entire community will tune in for classes designed to keep families healthy in mind, body and spirit.”

Healthy Kids Day, now in its 29th year, is the Y’s national initiative to improve health and well-being for kids and families. The Y hopes to use the day to get more kids moving and learning, creating healthy habits they can continue while they’re away from the classroom.

When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Research shows that without access to out-of-school learning activities, kids fall behind academically. Kids also gain weight twice as fast during summer than the school year.

In celebration of the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the Y is focusing on five “ingredients” that make a healthy child:

  • Healthy Food – Children need at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day for healthy development. Kids who help make their own meals and snacks are more likely to try the food, so enlist children in meal prep to encourage tasty explorations.
  • Physical Activity – From increased screen time to virtual school, studies show that children moved less in 2020 than usual. Help kids get back into physical activity routines by setting at least 60 minutes for fun games and play every day.
  • Curiosity Children who are read to by a family member at least three times per week are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading compared to their peers. Encourage children to access new wonders with their own library card. Many libraries now offer curbside pick-up too!
  • Laughter and Fun It’s important to let kids be kids! Parents should make sure they are joining in the fun with their kids. Close the laptop, turn off the phone and have uninterrupted play time. These opportunities allow adults to model a love for activity while providing invaluable family bonding time.

Locally, Healthy Kids Day is sponsored by Publix Super Markets Charities.

For more information, visit the First Coast YMCA event on Facebook here.