By Kate Scriven
How’s your calendar looking for Saturday April 27th? If you have a nice, empty square looking back at you, consider heading out to the South Sound YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day celebrations being held at both the Olympia Downtown and Briggs Community branches. This free event is geared for all families in our community – no need to be a Y member to participate. Make it a full family day and attend Procession of the Species, held directly after this event in downtown Olympia.
The annual event has a long history with the Y, starting in 1992. It was originally conceived as an outreach program with YMCA staff visiting schools over the span of a week, presenting information in a fun assembly about eating healthy and being active. However, the program shifted after just a few years to an onsite celebration, welcoming families into the local branches, free of charge, to learn about creating healthy habits for the whole family, all while having a blast together.
No matter the format, the reason has remained the same. “Our goal has always been to encourage kids and families to make healthy choices and develop healthy habits,” says Jake Grater, Branch Director at the Olympia Downtown branch. The day is a Y-USA initiative and branches all over the country invite kids and families into their facilities for a carnival-like day of fun and activity.
“It’s all about getting active and staying active – getting off the couch, choosing active games over video games and focusing on relationships with other kids and your family,” shares Grater. And the Y has a ton of programs and activities to get kids and families moving, most of which will be available to try out at Healthy Kids Day.
By far the most popular activity is the free open swim at both branches. This is a great way to check out pool facilities and potentially sign kids up for swimming lessons in preparation for summer. If your kids are begging for more pool time, you are in luck. All visitors at Healthy Kids Day will receive a coupon for $10 off lessons and all joining fees are waived for new members all weekend long, making this a great opportunity to join the Y as a member if you’ve been tossing the idea around.
Beyond the pool, kids will love the inflatable bounce-house style obstacle course at the Briggs Community branch as well as participating in sports such as soccer and basketball at both branches. Enjoy arts and crafts, dance programs and a Hula Hoop contest! Check out the incredibly popular Lego Robotics program which was a hit with kids during Spring Break camps.
Parents and kids alike can try out fitness classes together such as Zumba and Yoga. Have you ever worked out with your kids? You may be surprised at the bond, and healthy habit, that is created very quickly. And that bond is something valued at both South Sound Y branches. “The unique thing about the Y,” shares Grater, “is we want to change kid’s lives through their family. Really, the family has to come along for the ride in order for kids to truly be healthy. Getting families here together is our goal.”
A variety of community partners will also participate in the day including the Olympia Police Department and Olympia Fire Department sharing their community programs with families at the Briggs Community location. A police cruiser and Olympia Fire Department truck will be on site for kids to check out while meeting these real community heroes.
Other participants include Wolf Haven, South Sound Reading Foundation, the Girl Scouts and many more. Upon entering the Y, each kid will receive a passport. As they tour the activities and booths, kids will receive stamps in their passport, as well as some cool prizes, showing they’ve learned something new about healthy living choices. At the end, they can exchange their full passport for a very cool sling style bag to take home.
“Our purpose in hosting Healthy Kids Day is to facilitate connections between Thurston County families and resources for keeping their kids healthy both physically and intellectually. And of course, to have a lot of fun,” shares Shilpa Johnson, Youth and Teen Director at the Briggs Community branch.
Grab your family, on April 27th, and book a little play time together. The Briggs Community branch will host their activities from 10:00am – 2:00 pm and the Downtown branch will be open for guests from 10:00am – 1:00pm. For all the details, check the Y’s flyer here.
And, get out and play! Healthy habits formed in childhood really do last a lifetime.