GREEN The Akron Area YMCA will host its annual Healthy Kids Day at Camp Y-Noah on Sunday. This free event will include guided nature hikes, archery, canoeing, gaga, pony rides, and healthy snack making. The event is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. with some activities running all day and others at scheduled times.
Families will have the chance to win prizes and raffles including one lucky winner earning a free week to overnight camp. Entrants do not have to be present at the draw to win. Everyone is welcome to attend and children must be accompanied by an adult. No membership necessary. Other activities include a basketball free throw contest, an obstacle course, water safety lessons, and outdoor chapel experiences.
This years theme is "Awaken Summer Imagination" and it sees all the YMCA’s in the Akron area banding together for their first joint Healthy Kids Day. Healthy Kids Day first started in 1992 as a Y-USA initiative and its celebrated at 1,600 YMCAs across the country. In Akron, each YMCA held their own day with games, vendors, bouncy houses, and an outdoor activity.
"It really didn’t focus on the community involvement that the Y has to offer as a whole. So we thought that this year we would make it a full association event. We decided to have it at Camp Y-Noah so people can experience camp," said Judi Christy, the Akron Area’s director of marketing.
Christy heads up this year’s Healthy Kids Day committee. "The Y is a safe and fun landing place for kids. We want (the kids) to experience camp and experience some of the neat things we have going on at the different branches," she said.
Carl "Rocky" Wargo, the associate executive director of Camp Y-Noah, describes the usual Family Fun Day as a taste of camp or camp lite, but Healthy Kids Day will be "a bigger bite" because the whole association is coming out to work as a unit.
The aquatics staff from all the branches will lead the canoeing and water lessons. The athletic staff will lead the free throw contest and sports activities. Even the membership staff will band together as the welcoming team.
According to the history section of the YMCA’s website, Healthy Kids Day is "the nation’s largest health day for kids and families." It was designed to demonstrate the role that active play has on healthy and happy children. Every April, YMCA’s across the nation host events that target problem-solving, creativity, and social skills.
"It’s going to be a very fun, very interactive and very free event. The goal is to help our kids figure out how to make good, healthy choices and take that with them the rest of their lives," said Leah Ferencak, the aquatics director for Lake Anna YMCA and a committee member of this year’s Healthy Kids Day.
Camp Y-Noah is accredited by the American Camp Association and it has programs year-round although most camps take place in the summer. The 250 acres of woodlands and lake create a special place for kids to learn outdoor skills at day camps and overnight camps.
Camp Y-Noah is located at 815 Mount Pleasant Road in Green. For more information and a map of the camp, visit www.akronymca.org/healthyliving/kidsday.