Kids learn fitness can be fun as well as healthy

April 15, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - As children clung to a wall of Velcro or soared into the air on a moon bounce at the Chambersburg YMCA Sunday afternoon, weighty issues of childhood obesity and inactivity weren't what they were thinking about.

But it's exactly what the organizers of YMCA Healthy Kids Day had in mind when they planned the event that showed children that fitness can be fun.

"The Y is concerned with obesity. (Healthy Kids Day) lets parents know there are other things to do with their kids, whether it is with us or the rec department," Youth Director Terri Monn said.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, 14 percent of children and 12 percent of teenagers are obese, double the rates from a decade ago.

Research by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity indicated that television watching prevents physical activity and promotes unhealthy snacking, Monn said.

Connie Kaiser of Chambersburg laughed as she watched her grandsons put on Velcro bodysuits and hurl themselves against a Velcro wall.

"It was really fun. I felt like I was going down, but the suit made me stay in one place," said Ryan Miracle, 11.

Both he and his brother, Davis Miracle, 8, had some difficulty detaching themselves from the wall.

"Having a little trouble Davis?" Ryan yelled over to his brother as he clung motionless to the wall for a few seconds.

"This was a seven on a scale of one to 10," Davis rated the Velcro wall.

While both boys said they play their share of video games, they said they also belong to soccer, baseball and basketball teams and were anxious to check out the YMCA's weight machines and pool on Sunday.

Jackie Dawson of Chambersburg said she heard about the event and had already signed up her grandson, Shakeer Marks, 5, for a YMCA program by the time he came whooshing down an indoor slide and landed at her feet.

At 20 months old, Gabrielle Lockard was too small for the slides and Velcro wall, but her mother, Mara, had optometrist Joel McGahen check her daughter's eyes.

McGahen offered free eye examinations for children at the Healthy Kids Day event and told Lockard that Gabrielle's eyes were healthy.

"She's had a little done in her pediatrician's office, but this was a little more in-depth," Lockard said of the exam.

Other family service agencies provided information on child abuse, parenting classes and child-care referrals. Chambersburg firefighter Randy Himes handed out safety pamphlets, fire helmets and information on smoke detectors.

This is the third year the Chambersburg YMCA has sponsored the event. This year, organizers added the moon bounce, Velcro wall and other activities from Phantom Shadow Entertainment.

For families interested in stepping up their children's physical activities, Monn said the YMCA is registering youths for its summer camp and offers youth racquet sports, preschool and afterschool clubs, youth strength training, aquatics and karate.

For more information, contact the Chambersburg YMCA at 1-717-263-8508.

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