The YMCA of Long Island recently celebrated Healthy Kids Day. The event has addressed critical health and wellness issues facing families for 26 years. The nation’s largest health day for children, Healthy Kids Day reaches more than 1.2 million children and parents nationally. Locally, Bethpage Federal Credit Union once again served as the generous underwriting sponsor. The event was held at five YMCA branches in Nassau and Suffolk County, including East Hampton, Patchogue, Great South Bay, Huntington and Glen Cove. During the day of activities, children and families enjoyed fun, and healthy activities, games, arts & crafts, all aimed at teaching the long-term benefits of exercise and proper nutrition.
“More children and teens are overweight now than ever before; that’s why we encourage children to learn healthy habits early, and work to inspire a lifelong love for fitness and exercise,” said Anne Brigis, President, and CEO of the YMCA of Long Island. “Regular physical activity can prevent serious health problems associated with being overweight or obese, such as diabetes and cancer. In addition to burning calories and keeping blood sugar levels balanced, regular physical activity makes our bones and muscles strong, builds strength, relieves stress, and improves sleep and overall mental health. These are enormous benefits for children who are over-scheduled today and have little time just to be active and have fun.”
The YMCA together with Bethpage Federal Credit Union aims to inspire kids to stay active all year round with fun and easy ways to exercise to meet the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation to be active for 60 minutes a day, whether in school or involved in extracurricular activities.
The YMCA encourages children to make healthy choices such as eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and participating in physical activities with their families. In addition to physical activity, Healthy Kids Day also promoted the Y’s drive to encourage students to exercise their minds by reading 30 minutes per day at home.
“Another big initiative we have at the Y in partnership with the Rauch Foundation, is the Imagination Station— a fun program to build children’s literacy skills over the summer months,” said Beverly Lacy, vice president of philanthropy. “Summer learning-loss or the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer months is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher-income youth.”
Imagination Station is an integral component of the YMCA’s Summer Day Camp program, where every week children are encouraged to participate in an interactive, engaging curriculum and track their progress. Last year, 99 percent of campers maintained or increased their reading and comprehension levels.
To learn more about the YMCA of Long Island and its wide variety of programs for children, teens, families, adults and seniors, visit www.ymcali.org.