FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Playtime is Back: The YMCA Puts Play in Children's Day at YMCA Healthy Kids® Day, April 17!

Experts Recommend Children Get 60 Minutes of Physical Activity Each Day

CHICAGO, IL, April 13, 2010—Before MP3 players and video games ruled playtime, children enjoyed simple activities like jump rope, hopscotch and tag. As engagement in these “old-school” games decreased, the waistline of America’s children increased — one in three is obese or overweight due to inactivity and poor nutrition. On YMCA Healthy Kids Day, Ys are encouraging children and families to get back to the basics of play and to get moving!

“Ys help children have fun and find joy in physical activity through play. Our goal is to build a lifetime love of being active,” said Lynne Vaughan, Chief Innovation Officer for YMCA of the USA, the national resource office for 2,687 Ys nationwide. “There’s a notion that play is just for children, but it’s really a healthy habit for the whole family, and it keeps children happy and confident.” 

“The Y has been a leader in ensuring that families and communities all over this country have access to places to play," said First Lady Michelle Obama during a January press conference at the Alexandria YMCA in Virginia to discuss the issue of childhood obesity and the challenge of eating healthy.

Experts recommend that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and the Y strongly believes that the best way for children to get physical activity is through play. Studies show that children who consistently play are: happier and healthier; perform well in school; develop enhanced creativity; learn social and decision-making skills and are more physically active. Studies have also shown that active play gets children moving, which helps fight the risk of childhood obesity.

To help children become more active, the Y offers some simple tips to play that get the whole family moving!  

  1. Make physical activity a regular part of family playtime – the more active kids are the more likely they are to continue being physically active later in life.
  2. Allow kids to have unstructured playtime. All play is not created equal – kids need different types of play, including indoor and outdoor, active and creative.
  3. Reintroduce your kid to the basics of active play: play hopscotch or basketball, jump rope, or enjoy games such as “Red Light, Green Light” and “Simon Says”.
  4. Limit screen time and use of electronic media to allow more time for play.

“Obesity prevention is about improving lifestyle habits and attitudes, and incorporating traditions of eating healthy and being physically active – while having fun,” Vaughan said. “It’s what the Y has done for over 150 years, and what we continue to teach children and families.”

YMCA Healthy Kids Day, the largest health day in the nation for children and families, combines making physical activity fun with helping families achieve year-long wellness and healthy living. More than a half million people from across the country are expected to attend. Nearly 1,500 events will have a variety of activities designed to help children explore creative, imaginative and simple ways to play, such as relay races, bounce houses, rock wall climbing and face painting. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information about YMCA Healthy Kids Day or to find a local event, please visit ymca.net.

YMCA Healthy Kids Day is supported nationally by Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Tropicana Products, Inc.

About YMCA of the USA

YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the nation's 2,687 YMCAs, which serve 21 million people each year, including more than 9 million children under the age of 18. YMCAs respond to critical social needs by drawing on their collective strength as one of America's largest not-for-profit community service organizations. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, family strengthening, and health and well-being for all, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America's communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit ymca.net to find your local YMCA.

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Contact:
Mamie Moore
YMCA of the USA
312-419-8325
mamie.moore@ymca.net

Tuesday, April 13, 20101

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The YMCA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.