Healthy kids equal healthy communities

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Saturday, the Cassville Family YMCA hosted a Healthy Kids Day Fair at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Cassville. Although the sky threatened rain throughout the morning, many area families attended the event, which offered puppet shows, jump houses, a one-mile fun run and other activities sponsored by area organizations.

The Healthy Kids Fair Day is just one of several new activities that have been added by the Cassville Family YMCA and other local organizations over the last few years. Other community events that have been developed to provide family-friendly entertainment include the Washburn Chamber of Commerce's Strawberry Festival, the Cassville R-IV School District's talent show and the Pioneer Festival, which is held at HIS Children's Camp near Ridgley each year.

Additional activities have been developed to teach area youngsters the importance of community service. Most area school districts host workdays that give students an opportunity to perform community service in and around their cities. Next Saturday, nearly 100 local teens will gather at Roaring River State Park to clean trails, plant trees and complete landscaping projects during Cassville Community 2000's second annual youth service day.

By providing alternative activities that promote physical activity and positive social interactions, these events and others offered by local organizations will help combat issues like child obesity and teen drug and alcohol abuse. Students who participate in family-oriented events will also develop a greater appreciation for community service and involvement.

Growing up in Barry County, some of my most cherished childhood memories involve community activities like the Easter egg hunt held at Rocky Edmondson Park and the annual watermelon feed and fireworks show held in Cassville. I will never forget attending the Cassville Christmas parade as a family each year or my parents cheering me on during each T-ball game that I participated in.

Although youngsters today have access to a multitude of technology-based activities, it is important for them to learn the value of community programs and events. It is my hope that children who participate in events like the Healthy Kids Fair will grow into adults who are interested in supporting similar programs in the future.

I commend all of the community members who continue to develop new events for area families each year. I also commend all of the parents who take time out of their busy schedules to support their children as they participate in community activities. In addition to creating memories that will last a lifetime, each moment spent taking part in a local event will teach children the importance of community involvement, which in turn will help ensure that local events and activities prosper in the future.

Lindsay Reed