Hundreds of happy and healthy kids frolicked around the Y on Saturday

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Children took advantage of an obstacle course and various other games at this year's event. – Photo courtesy the YMCA of MV

On Saturday, May 2, more than 400 Island kids and families tested all things fun and healthy at the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard fifth annual Healthy Kids Day.

The day was all-inclusive and free, provided at no cost thanks to the Y for All Financial Assistance and Community Outreach Program, supported by Y donors and volunteers.

Kids and families were encouraged to try everything healthy, and were provided with a passbook with the incentive of collecting stamps at each activity, a goodie bag to take home, and a T-shirt to tie-dye. They hopped, crawled, and ran around, from the obstacle course with Y health and wellness trainers to the Wee Ones obstacle course in Y Child Watch, carnival games with pushups, jumping rope and medicine-ball tossing with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Island Wide Youth Collaborative, paddleboard balancing with Island Spirit Kayak, farm-animal petting with the Farm at Lotus Pond and the Farm Institute, gardening and potting activities with Island Grown Schools, healthy food activities with the Y Café, block printing with Althea Designs, dancing with The Yard and Rise, tie-dye with the Y Camp Terra Mare, Gaga Pit games, bounce house, face painting, chalk and community murals, clown parade, and Sharky Mascot fun. The day was fun-filled and healthy all around.

Kids who attended gave it a big thumbs up, and could be heard shouting “This is the best day ever!”

Every year, Healthy Kids Day at the Y aims to get more kids moving and learning, so they can keep up the habit all summer long — a critical out-of-school time for kids’ health. When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles — or gaps — that prevent them from reaching their full potential, related to hunger, water safety, learning, safe spaces to play, and health. Each year, the Y helps our Island youth “hop the gap” and achieve more, providing a safe place to learn, stay healthy, and build friendships.

“The Y is so much more than sports, swimming, gymnastics, and a place for kids to hang out. We support families in their efforts to instill healthy habits at home,” said Jill Robie Axtell, executive director of the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard. “We know that it can sometimes feel like a challenge. So at Healthy Kids Day, we encourage kids to stay physically and intellectually active all summer long, and give families tips they can easily replicate at home. It’s free and open to the community!”

In celebration of YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the Y shared the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:

  • Try, try, repeat: There are many great-tasting fruits and vegetables that many kids have never heard of, let alone tried. Grab a new fruit or vegetable and encourage everyone in the family to try at least a bite.
  • Play around town: Challenge the family to play on a different playground every week. Identify playgrounds at a variety of parks; expand definitions of playgrounds to include nature trails, a nearby stream, and a bike path.
  • Families at play for an hour a day: From walking to gardening, or swimming to shooting hoops, make playful movement a part of your family’s day. To get 60 minutes of moderate activity throughout your day just add 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there.
  • Foster a passion for reading: Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
  • Make sleep a priority: Doctors recommend 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5 to 12 and 7 to 8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning, and other vital functions.