By Steven Hoffman
After an enormously successful event last year, organizers are planning another Healthy Kids Day in downtown Oxford. The event, which is free to everyone, is slated for this Saturday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Healthy Kids Day is a national effort by the YMCA to inspire kids to keep their minds and bodies active. The day includes games, healthy snacks, arts & crafts, fitness and dance demonstrations, and more to motivate kids and teach families how to develop a healthy lifestyle at home.
“The idea is to encourage kids to eat healthy, stay active, and read,” explained Melissa Pacella, the Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI) event and volunteer coordinator. OMI partners with the YMCA to organize the event in downtown Oxford, where the street is closed to provide ample space for the festivities.
This year's Healthy Kids Day will kickoff with a fun run at 10:30 a.m. There is a new, longer course for the fun run this year. The rest of the activities begin at 11 a.m.
“Like last year, there will also be a lot of performances,” Pacella explained.
The YMCA's Activan, which has made appearances at numerous Oxford events, will be there as well.
“It's a treasure chest of fun activities,” Pacella said of the Activan.
The variety of activities guarantees that there will be something for everyone at the event. A moon bounce will be set up, as will an obstacle course. There will be a glee performance and Zumba demonstrations, too.
“Everything we offer during the day is free,” explained Marcia Shirilla, the associate executive director of the Jennersville YMCA.
Nick Legere, the senior program director for the Jennersville YMCA, said that having Oxford host the event is a way to take the activities and games directly to families that might not be familiar with the Jennersville YMCA's offerings.
The YMCA has been organizing Healthy Kids Day activities for more than two decades. Research shows that without access to out-of-school physical and learning activities, youngsters fall behind academically.
Kate Marshall, who serves as the Jennersville YMCA's childcare director, said that she was impressed with how so many kids started dancing as two Djs entertained the crowd at last year's event.
“It gives them an opportunity to stay active. Everyone is encouraged to stay active,” explained Michelle Kasparian, the director of healthy living.”
Legere said that there will be approximately 40 vendors at the event. Local restaurants will be offering samples of foods, too.
Pacella said that the Healthy Kids Day is a different type of event for OMI to organize, which is good.
“We're always focusing on businesses so this really brings in a different crowd for us,” she explained.
Pacella and everyone from the YMCA said that they were proud to be partnering for an event that encourages families, especially children, to be active and healthy.
In addition to OMI and the YMCA, major sponsors include the Jennersville Regional Hospital, Krapf Bus Companies, and Western Pest Services.
If it rains hard enough to move the event, the rain location is the Jennersville YMCA.
For information about Healthy Kids Day is available by calling 610-998-9494.