YMCA encourages kids to get out and play

The YMCA of Greater Miami is encouraging kids and families to make physical activity a part of their daily routine in an effort to combat the growing childhood obesity epidemic.

On YMCA Healthy Kids Day, youngsters and grownups will learn the importance of physical activity and active play through fun, engaging activities. The South Dade Family YMCA branch will be providing resources to help families get back to the basics of healthy living.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day is the nation’s largest health day for kids and families. The South Dade Family YMCA branch will provide resources to help educate grownups about making everyday healthy choices for their families. The event will be on Apr. 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at South Dade Family YMCA’s Field of Dreams at Miami Children’s Hospital Palmetto Bay Center, 17615 SW 97 Ave. (Franjo Road). The event will feature activities such as: health fair, bounce house, group exercise demonstration and healthy snacks.

“The YMCA’s goal is to help kids find the joy in active play, and to help build a lifetime of love of being physically active,” said Alfred Sanchez, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Miami.

Studies show that kids who consistently engage in play are happier and healthier, and develop and enhance a variety of skills including motor skills, social skills, problem solving, and creativity. Experts recommend that kids engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, which often results in higher selfesteem and better academic performance.

“We know there are barriers to play,” Sanchez added. “Some families do not have access to a safe park or playground, or physical education and recess may have been reduced in school. However, families can come to the South Dade Family YMCA branch, where they will be safe and enjoy being active together and with other families.” The YMCA of Greater Miami offers simple ways to help kids get more physical activity:

• Make physical activity a regular part of family time — the more active kids are the more likely they are to continue being physically active later in life.

• Allow kids to have unstructured playtime. All play is not created equal — kids need different types of play, including indoor and outdoor, active and inactive.

• Reintroduce your kid to the basics of active play: play hopscotch or basketball, jump rope, or enjoy games such as “Red Light, Green Light” and “Simon Says.”

• Play together as a family.

The YMCA of Greater Miami encourages families to take part in YMCA Healthy Kids Day to enjoy a day of active play and resources for healthier living. All activities are free to the public.

For more information, call the South Dade Family YMCA Branch at 305-254- 0310.

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