With today’s families leading such stressful, hectic lives, it’s nearly impossible to make sure kids are getting enough time for exercise, reading and simple, old-fashioned outdoor fun.
In fact, according to the YMCA’s Family Health Snapshot, fewer than 20% of the nation’s children read books for fun, get enough exercise or eat adequate amounts of healthy foods. And with summertime just around the corner, it turns out that the challenges and consequences are even higher.
Far from fun and games, summer has become a time of weight gain and learning loss for too many kids, including those who are already at greater risk for obesity and school failure.
With some kids losing up to one month of learning and achievement, teachers have long characterized the problem as “summer slide.” Sadly, research shows the decline is even steeper − and often irreversible – for low-income kids who can wind up two to three grade levels behind their peers by fifth grade.
And according to The American Journal of Public Health, U.S. kids, one-third of whom are already overweight or obese, gain weight two to three times faster during the summer, often due to endless hours of sitting in front of TVs, computers or video games.
As part of the Y’s focus on prevention – and addressing critical gaps in health and education − we are celebrating Healthy Kids Day on Saturday, April 21. That’s when the YMCA of Central Florida, along with Ys across the nation, will invite 1.2 million kids and families to “Take On Summer” through fun activities that challenge kids both physically and mentally.
Locally, 17 Y Family Centers, including outreach Ys serving Pine Hills, Tangelo Park, Kissimmee and other fragile communities, will be hosting indoor and outdoor games, reading events, field sports, contests and more.
It will also be an opportunity for families to learn more about Y quality summer camps, all of which – in addition to a lot of fun – emphasize reading, physical activity, healthy eating, and values. Parents can also ask about Y summer camp scholarships, awarded on the basis of need, which enable even more Central Florida kids to get up, get active, and Take on Summer.
After all, playing and learning shouldn’t take a break just because school does.