We hear a lot about kids' health in the news today, and a lot about initiatives to help them get and stay that way. But as the YMCA of St. Louis has already figured out, making them fun is the most successful way for kids to adopt healthy habits.
This Saturday (April 28), the YMCA of Greater St. Louis is celebrating its annual Healthy Kids Day, with free events at all area branches, like a family swims, kids' obstacle courses, family Zumba, kids' karate, bounce houses and lots more (Check with your local branch because activities vary.)
The events are designed to help families improve their health and well-bring through active play and educational opportunities. At a time when one in three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), developing healthier habits that include increased physical activity is more important than ever.
"Healthy Kids Day has become the Y's largest national initiative, bringing children and families together and providing the education, activities and support that encourage healthy habits in children and parents alike," said Eric Vahey, associate director of health and wellness for the YMCA of Metro St. Louis.
Activities at Healthy Kids Day aren't limited to physical activities and active fun. They'll also focus on summer reading and learning, said Vahey, "keeping both both body and mind active and challenged through Y and other community programs."
Both the St. Louis County Library and St. Louis Public Library are partners in this year's Healthy Kids Day, along with Y Community Literacy, which will distribute information on Y Read and host "Literacy Jeopardy" and other reading games at all area Y branches.
The libraries will provide free reading instructions for both children and adults. You can learn more about these programs at all Y branches, while the St. Louis County Library will have representatives at the Edward Jones, Mid-County, South County, West County and Wildwood Family YMCAs.
Safety is a big part of health, too. You and your kids can also learn about water safety, fire safety, bike safety and bike helmet safety and fit, as well as have your child's car seat checked to see if it's properly installed. There will even be information on how to help your kids understand the importance of good hand-washing habits.
Water safety will also be the focus of a summer session at area YMCAs with "YMCA Splash," a program that teaches kids how to be safer around water, including around backyard pools, at the beach, in public pools and while boating.
Many branches will also be holding a Camp Open House during Healthy Kids Day. Parents can learn about the many summer camp opportunities the Y offers, meet camp staff and take advantage of discounts on camp fees.
Hours for Healthy Kids Day free events are generally 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but check with your local Y because times and locations may vary.
For more information or to find your local branch, visit ymcastlouis.org