Event designed to get kids, families active

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On Saturday, the Walla Walla YMCA will team up with the Tour of Walla Walla, Walla Walla Sweets Baseball and local community health professionals to encourage all kids and parents in Walla Walla County to come to the Y for a play date and commit to being active every day.

It's all part of the YMCA's Healthy Kids Day - the nation's largest health day for families. Healthy Kids Day will be celebrated at nearly 1,600 Ys across the country, with more than 700,000 families expected to attend this year.

This free event will take place at the Walla Walla YMCA from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Families will be able to meet Sweet Lou, get answers to their questions from health-care professionals, learn hip-hop dancing and participate in the Kids Triathlon.

The YMCA offers the Healthy Kids Day to teach healthy habits to families and inspire a love of physical activity, as part of the nonprofit's commitment to strengthen our community through healthy living.

At a time when one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), developing healthier habits that include increased physical activity is more important than ever.

At the Walla Walla YMCA, we understand parents struggle to find time to incorporate active play and healthier habits into their kids' daily routine. Doing so doesn't necessarily require extra money or resources.

It's as simple as making a play date with your kids with two key requirements - be active and have fun!

As part of Healthy Kids Day, the Y encourages families to make play dates every day as a simple way to become healthier, more active and connected.

Here are five simple activities families can do to play together:

1. Schedule a Game Night - Play games with the kids that incorporate physical activity, such as Musical Hula Hoops. We will teach families this game at Healthy Kids Day.

2. Dance, Dance - Turn on your favorite party music and dance! Make this activity more fun with a dance contest. The YMCA will be having hip-hop dance demonstrations during the event.

3. Go Riding - Find a new bike path or park for a fun afternoon outdoors; grab your helmets and go for bike ride. The Tour of Walla Walla is the same weekend as Healthy Kids Day. Sweet Lou will lead the children's parade from the YMCA to the kid's bike race down town. This race will be the third event in the kid's triathlon.

4. Channel Your Inner Youth - Play a game of baseball. Go outside and play catch together. The Walla Walla Sweets will host a free clinic on Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA.

5. Play Outside - Visit your neighborhood park or camp out in your backyard for some outdoor fun.

Families can even be part of a live audience for "What's up Doc."

A spin-off of Ask the Doctor, this event from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. will be hosted by Dr. Rogers, a pediatrician; Dr. Nielson, an optometrist; Dr. Goyer, a dentist; Dr. Utt, an orthodontist; and Maria Lizotte, RN, a certified diabetes educator.

Feel free to ask those burning medical questions.

While you're there, take part in Providence St. Mary Medical Center sports concussion screening, nutrition information, Toddler Trot and a Diaper Dash, teamwork activities, swimming and running!

Finally, the YMCA challenges all youths to participate in the Healthy Kids Day. The school with the greatest percentage of participants will receive the championship trophy, which their school will keep for the year.

We hope all schools will rally their students to participate in order for families to build better bonds together and improve their physical health and nutritional well-being.

Christy Druffel received her bachelor of science degree from Oregon State University in exercise sport science and fitness program management She has been working for the YMCA for the last 15 years and is the Director of Healthy Living.

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