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Healthy Kids Day at Y encourages activities
Christina Anthony (center wearing blue and white top) checks the refreshments to make sure everyone stays well hydrated during Saturday’s YMCA Healthy Kids Day. She helped organize the event that encourages today’s youth to become more physically active. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
Kids jumped, danced, tossed the football, tried out their Hoola Hoop skills and raced in potato sacks during Saturday’s Liberty County Armed Services Family YMCA Healthy Kids Day.
The local event coincided with the Y’s nationwide initiative meant to showcase the services provided at the YMCA and to enhance a healthy lifestyle for children.
Children were allowed to test their skills in a variety of sports to help them develop an interest in physical activity. From obstacle courses to basketball, aerobics dance class to swimming the kids had an opportunity to sample an array of sports as well as listen to stories and enjoy a meal after their completed events.
Experts fear too many children are staying indoors and on video games too much, creating an epidemic of overweight children in our nation.
“Current statistics indicate Georgia is the highest state in the United States for percentages of overweight children,” Christina Anthony the Y’s Military Family Program director, said. “The majority of the age group for obese children in our state ranges from 4-16 years of age.”
In addition to risking childhood obesity, the lack of activity has created an increase in the rate of type 2 diabetes. Formerly called adult onset diabetes, the disease is being reclassified as the rate among juveniles increase, according to a consumer health information Web site.
Anthony said everyone at the YMCA spent time preparing the facility for the day’s event that also included an inflatable slide for the youngsters.
She said this generation of children is more likely to interact through videos games than of physical activity. There are ways, she said, to engage the technical generation and use electronics to their benefit.
Anthony talked about the Wii system, a video game system that has a controller that the player uses while standing and moving as if actually engaged in the activity. For example to play electronic tennis, you would stand and swing the controller like it was a racquet. Anthony said the technology is currently being used to help rehabilitate injured soldiers returning from Iraq.
“I love the Wii,” she said. “Being a part of the military relations I also do tours at Walter Reed, DC, and San Antonio and these centers have put in the Wii as a tool for rehabilitation and physical therapy, to help the soldiers. We are looking for sponsors to turn one of our children’s rooms here at the Y into a Wii sports room. Then we can bring in those sports and that way if they are going to play electronic games we can get them the right ones to get them up and out of their seat. In the future we are looking to have a Wii competition in the summertime.”
But Anthony added physical activity is still critical and not difficult to fit into a child’s day.
“We tell the parents that taking 30 minutes out of their children’s 12-hour day is not that difficult to do and we give them pointers on how to do just that,” she said.
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