YMCA to host Healthy Kids Day

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Annual event aims to keep children active during summer

When school lets out for the summer, many children see staying at home all day as a time to watch plenty of TV, play tons of video games and not leave the house, and the Cassville YMCA is hoping to change that.

The YMCA is making preparations up for its annual Healthy Kids Day, to be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, which aims to keep children active during the summer.

Rick Ragsdale, sports and youth director at the YMCA, said the event has been held every spring for the past few years, and normally draws about 150-200 families, about 500 people total.

"We'll have lots of activities like bounce houses, beach volleyball and a one-mile fun run," he said. "We'll have people there making smoothies for the kids, and there will be plenty of organizations like the Cassville Branch Library, Access Family Care, the martial arts people, the Cassville Fire Department and Roaring River who will have information on programs and activities for kids during the summer. The main goal is to get kids thinking about what they want to do over the summer so they're not just sitting at home and playing video games."

Ragsdale said the majority of children who attend are ages kindergarten through sixth grade, but anyone is invited to the event. The YMCA will also have information on its summer camp, Camp Wakonda, which is an 88-acre camp on the banks of the White River, featuring activities like a climbing tower, high and low ropes courses, archery and rifle ranges, arts and crafts, nature center and a pool.

Verna Fry, who handles youth services at the Cassville Branch Library, said she has been a part of the event for the past few years, aiming to educate attendees about what the library has to offer for people of all ages.

"Last year, we had a bean bag toss and handed out some information on things like our weekly movies and summer reading programs," she said. "We encourage people to find out what's available at the library, because it's more than just books, as we also rent DVDs and have lots of programs throughout the year."

Fry said some of those programs include the Summer Reading Club, a preschool program and a program for children who are home schooled. This year's Summer Reading Club will have the theme, "Fizz, Boom, Read," which is focused on learning about science.

"We'll have some interesting people share programs to help kids learn more about science, and present it to them in a way that's different from how they learned it in school," she said.

Ragsdale said the Healthy Kids Day is full of information such as the library's and the hope is that children will have a good time and also learn how to get involved in different programs while not in school.

"There might be people who come that have never used the library, so we'll have some library literature they can pick up and take with them," she said. "We hope to make them aware of what's here, and that it's free, and people should make use of such a great resource."

"It's based on health all the way around," he said. "We're hoping for a full crowd that keeps us busy over the whole two hours, and to promote ways for kids to be healthy over the summer."

Ragsdale said the first 100 children who show up to the event will receive lunch totes, which were donated to the YMCA by Barry Electric Cooperative, Arvest Bank, the Missouri Foundation of Health and Emmanuel Baptist Church.

The event is free to the public, and attendees to not have to be members of the YMCA to take part in the festivities.

For more information about Healthy Kids Day, people may call the YMCA at 417-846-1535.

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