The Champaign Family YMCA will host its annual Healthy Kids Day at Urbana University’s Grimes Center on April 27 from noon to 3 p.m. The free event will include 40 to 50 vendors, each presenting a fun, educational activity and information on what their organizations can do to help local families.
“It’s one day where we focus on opportunities for children and celebrate kids being healthy and active,” said Champaign Family YMCA CEO Paul Waldsmith. “You try to help people increase their awareness of opportunities, and we live in an increasingly stratified community and country with respect to options that kids have. Some kids, unfortunately, aren’t prepared mentally, physically, emotionally or intellectually by the time they get to kindergarten; some kids are. Some kids have every opportunity in the world to participate in different sports and programs; some kids don’t,” he said, adding, “We’re trying to make certain that all families have opportunities to see and experience a wide range of health- and fitness-related activities.”
“All tables are pretty popular,” said Health Enhancement Director Jennifer Post, who has overseen Healthy Kids Day for the last five years. “There’s a lot of screenings that are going on, so even the health district providing the physicals for athletes are pretty popular. Most of the time the families go through and try to hit up all of the tables, and we try to make something that’s called a passport so that they do hit up all the tables. They have to get a passport stamped or punched, and then they can be entered in a raffle. We try to make it so that they are involved with each company that’s out there.”
Post said she expects to have both football and basketball drills, as last year both university teams were there. She also reached out to the baseball team, which will be unavailable due to a spring game. All teams will have items to raffle to kids.
Other vendors will include Erin Patton State Farm, with its bear mascot, the Champaign County Health District, Mercy Memorial Hospital, Buckeye Health, Caresource, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, kindergarten screenings, and vision screenings by the Lions Club.
“A lot of families in the community don’t know how to access information, or don’t know where to get it,” said Post. “This is a good way to have almost everybody in your community out there to hand you that information of how to eat healthy, how to be physically active, how can I get my child enrolled in this activity or that activity, so it is really informative. Although it is only one day, you can get a ton of information for your family that they might not have known.”
Children of all ages are welcome at the event, though Waldsmith said there will probably be more to do for preschool and elementary students rather than high schoolers. This is the first time Healthy Kids Day has been in the afternoon; in years past it has been in the morning. Waldsmith said they wanted to try a different time to see if they could attract more people.
“Healthy Kids Day was a YMCA of the USA initiative, but we typically don’t emphasize that it is the Y’s Healthy Kids Day,” he said. “If you go to other communities you will more than likely see it at the Y, but we wanted to make it for the community and integrated into the community. We’ve had wonderful partners. Urbana University has been supportive. Certainly Mercy Hospital has been supportive over time and numerous other people.”
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304