April brings Healthy Kids Day, bike ride to YMCA

Nathaiel Jackson gives street hockey a try during the Marysville Family YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day on April 26. - Kirk Boxleitner
Nathaiel Jackson gives street hockey a try during the Marysville Family YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day on April 26.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Family YMCA’s events in April have been a study in contrasts.

While the Marysville Y’s first “All-In Family Bike Ride” launched under the cold shadows of rainclouds on April 5, the return of the Y’s Healthy Kids Day was met with bright, warm sunshine on Saturday, April 26.

Healthy Kids Day is designed to offer families a multifaceted take on health and wellness, by approaching diet and exercise through equal parts play and education.

In the Marysville Y’s gym, the Adams siblings — 7-year-old Tanner, 5-year-old Kelcy and 10-year-old Mallary — were all equally enraptured by the tiny planters they received for their sunflower and pumpkin seeds, which they were encouraged to take home, so that they could continue to learn about plants and the rudiments of starting your own garden.

While Zumba instructor Suzanne Barrett led an impromptu workout session on the other side of the gym, a whole host of community groups offered insights and advice on health and wellness in one of rooms typically set aside for fitness routines. Marysville Vision Source kept things playful but informative, by explaining the eye to young onlookers while also helping them craft their own oversized sunglasses, but 7-year-old Saturn Smith was in no mood to stand still.

“You want to jump rope with me?” Smith asked, before proceeding to leap in the air, whipping her jump-rope rapidly over her head and under her legs without stumbling once.

Just outdoors, fellow 7-year-old Nathaiel Jackson was not nearly so skilled at the demonstration goals that had been set up for street hockey, but his father appreciated his energy nonetheless.

“Families are of primary importance,” said Ronda Hardcastle, who serves as the health and well-being director for the Marysville Family YMCA. “Depending on how old the kids are, wherever they’re going and whatever they’re doing, it’s their families who have to get them there, and it’s their families who feed them most of their meals, whether they’re home-cooked or they go out to eat. So for any health or well-being plan for the kids to succeed, their families have to be either part of it or supporting it.”

“Research shows that, during the summer, kids are more likely to gain weight, and fall behind academically, than during the school year,” said Scott Washburn, president and CEO of the YMCA of Snohomish County. “Healthy Kids Day is not just a single day of fun, active play and learning. It’s a kickoff to helping parents get a jump on creating a healthier summer.”

Hardcastle noted that the hearty souls who braved the elements to take part in the “All-In Family Bike Ride,” a poker ride along the Centennial Trail on April 5, already got a bit of a head-start on maintaining their health, not to mention showing their support for the survivors of the Oso slide. Although the ride was originally intended to help raise funds for the Marysville Y’s annual campaign to benefit its own members, it wound up generating $2,000 for the American Red Cross’ Oso relief funds.

“While other Snohomish Ys have fun runs, we thought it would be different to address those who enjoy riding bikes,” Hardcastle said. “Our intent is to make this a large family event that people look forward to each year. In addition to the ride, we had games, music and activities for the kids to enjoy. The fun part is collecting a poker hand as you ride, since riders pick up cards at each water and food stop. The person with the best hand won a $100 Visa gift card.”

While 80 riders signed up prior to the ride, and there were 10 more walk-ups, only about 50 riders went out on the routes, most of whom rode the 36- and 48-mile routes.

“This was our inaugural event, and I know it will only get better,” Hardcastle said. “Feedback from the riders, to make the event even better, would be appreciated.”

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