Healthy Kids Day

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of U.S. children ages 6 to 11 who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to almost 17 percent in 2010.

The Marietta Family YMCA, in an effort to bring awareness to the problem of childhood obesity and inactivity, is offering Healthy Kids Day on Saturday at Marietta Middle School. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We know parents struggle to keep their kids physically and intellectually active every day,” said Angie Scott, child care director at the YMCA. “Healthy Kids Day will help parents begin thinking early about what their kids need to grow and achieve all summer long.”

In years past, the event has drawn 200 to 300 children and families to participate in a number of activities, emphasizing healthy activities and eating habits.

“This is a national event and we really want to focus on the healthy part of Healthy Kids Day,” said Suzy Zumwalde, YMCA director, adding that finding a balance in daily activities is very important. “I think that technology plays a factor (in the obesity problem) and time needs to be limited … just getting outside, walking the dog, walking with your family. Exercise doesn’t always have to be athletic play.”

Saturday’s event will be held in the gym at the middle school and on the grounds, weather permitting. Stations will be set up where sponsors and vendors will offer information, coupons and activities. Children will be given a card to be checked off after they have visited each vendor and will receive a T-shirt at the end.

“This is really a come-and-go event,” said Zumwalde. “We will have activities like laser tag – the kids have an absolute blast – and the catering company Thrive will give a presentation and information on healthy cooking and buying local produce. We will also have healthy snacks.”

Some of the other activities include the Marietta Fire Department’s Smokehouse fire safety simulator, fingerprinting by Bowling Insurance Agency and a climbing wall will be sponsored by the West Virginia National Guard. L&P services will have mental health awareness information.

There will be three stations where children and parents can learn a little bit more about programs Marietta Memorial Hospital supports, said Jennifer Offenberger, public relations and marketing director for the Memorial Health System.

“Our emergency services department will talk about ATV safety which, as we know, is a big issue in our community,” Offenberger said. “It will focus on youth and risks and the concerns that parents might have.”

Information will also be available on the tobacco cessation program, discouraging use of all forms of tobacco, and what the health impact would be to young people.

The W.H.A.L.E. program (We Have a Little Emergency) is also a program being implemented by the hospital.

“We had been recognizing that sometimes, in accident situations, if a parent is incapacitated, there is no way to find out information about the little one,” Offenberger said.

The program uses stickers that can be filled out by parents with pertinent information, such as an emergency contact and allergy information, and adhered to a car seat for each child.

McDonald’s of Marietta, United Health Community Plan, Subway and Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks have also helped to support Healthy Kids Day. For more information, visit www.ymca.net/healthy-kids-day.