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Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA returns after COVID hiatus.

The obstacle course at Healthy Kids Day is always a favorite activity for participants. — Elizabeth Cecil

This Saturday, April 30, YMCAs all over the country will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Healthy Kids Day, the Y’s national initiative to improve health and well-being for kids and families. The day is meant to get more kids moving and learning, creating healthy habits they can continue while they’re away from the classroom.

Joining in the national celebration on Saturday will be our local Y on the Edgartown Road in Oak Bluffs, opening its doors for this free event from 1 to 4 pm, encouraging families to take a moment to help kids be kids and set them up for a summer of success.  

“At the Y, we believe in the potential of all children, and each day we work to help kids find that potential within themselves,” said executive director Jill Robie-Axtell in a press release from the YMCA. “Healthy Kids Day is a fun, free community-wide event to kick off summer and remind us all how important it is for kids to stay active physically and mentally throughout the summer.”  

Much from past Healthy Kids Days — before COVID shut down the event for two years — is back. Expect new events as well, such as a touch of Christmas in April. Remember those holiday hayrides, trotting around Tisbury on frosty-cold winter days with Fred Fisher and his team of Nip ‘N’ Tuck horses? Those fun buggy rides will be happening this Saturday at the Y as part of Healthy Kids Day.

Returning by popular demand will be an obstacle course “half the length of a football field,” according to Y health, wellness, and sports director Asil Cash. Kids will be challenged to jump over, wriggle under, or otherwise negotiate at least eight obstacles, including bunches of tires. Other activities will include a rock-climbing wall, the M.V. Bounce House slide, games, and face painting. Families will also be taught how to develop and maintain healthy routines at home, according to Y development and marketing coordinator Rachel Serwa.

Upon arrival kids will be given a cotton T shirts with their choice of inspirational messages, and

an abundant supply of Magic Markers will be available for each child to bring out their inner artist as they decorate the shirts.

Saturday’s celebration is also intended to be an informational event, with tips on how families can lead a healthy, happy summer. Island Grown Initiative will be present with information on their summer lunch and mobile market initiative.

In celebration of the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the YMCA offers the following tips to help families develop healthy habits this summer that can have a lifetime effect.

High-five the fruits and veggies: Make sure kids get at least five servings of fruits and veggies each day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend for healthy childhood development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month.

Read together: The summer is a great time to enjoy books with summer program participants — and 30 minutes a day goes a long way! Take trips to the local library, or create a family reading challenge to see who can log the most minutes of reading. Encourage youth to create their own stories as well.

Get moving: Activities that require movement also help kids flex their mental muscle. Use materials in unique ways: Ask youth to build models, manipulate tools, or develop their own theatrical scenes.

Play together: By putting more play into your family’s day, you will soon find yourself getting the activity that will have your family feeling energized and strong.

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, and learning.

The YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard’s Healthy Kids Day takes place at 111R Edgartown–Vineyard

Haven Road, 1 to 4 pm, on Saturday, April 30, and features fun activities for the whole family.