"For the kids, this will give them something fun to do but also be very informative on healthy living," said Chris Hodgekiss, program director for YMCA of Southeast Missouri. "Parents can get some good ideas on how to be healthy with their kids."
On Saturday more than 1,420 YMCAs across the United States will participate in the 15th annual YMCA Healthy Kids Day. In conjunction with the national day, the YMCA in Sikeston will host a family night Friday and the Healthy Kids Day Saturday for parents and their children ages preschool through elementary school.
The family night will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday featuring the coach of Harlem Swish, Magic Valentino. Valentino will use basketball comedy to deliver an anti-alcohol, drug and tobacco program.
"This year we thought it'd be neat to bring him (Valentino) in because some of our booths we have set up will focus on some of things that he's going to be talking about," Hodgekiss said. "And it will be a good way to kick off the weekend. It's free to the families and they can enjoy his basketball tricks and everything he does, and then come back on Saturday if they want."
YMCA Healthy Kids Day is a free, fun-filled day of activities designed to promote healthy kids and families in spirit, mind and body.
The day's festivities in Sikeston begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with a family fitness walk open to the public.
"We'll do a little one-mile loop starting and ending at the Y," Hodgekiss said. A "health fair" will follow from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with various booths set up at the YMCA. About 15-18 organizations are participating in the fair, Hodgekiss said.
Among groups with booths is the Sikeston Jaycees, which will conduct a photo identification shop for children.
"Parents can their bring kids, get their pictures taken, get them finger printed, and all of the information gets entered into database that goes to the Sikeston Department of Public Safety's mainframe database," Hodgekiss explained.
In addition, parents will receive the information in a hard-copy format. Sikeston DPS will set up a bicycle safety booth. Scott County Health Department, Bootheel Healthy Start and Missouri Delta Medical Center are other local organizations that will have booths.
MDMC's booth will focus on dairy intake for preschool children and older, said the hospital's representative, Sharon Urhahn.
Information available will include examples of ingredients in milk compared to sports drinks and sodas, the benefits of milk, such as its nutrients and how it helps bodies grow and how dairy foods can help when trying to lose weight. Dairy-themed coloring books will also be available for children.
Adults will learn healthy recipes, cooking tips and suggestions on how to increase their child's dairy intake throughout the day.
"Parents are the ones who are preparing the food, and the kids are depending on them to fulfill their food sources. They need to know this," Urhahn said. Tigers Jump Rope Team will perform a routine and tricks at 10:30 a.m. and noon Saturday.
On the fitness aspect, kids' aerobics classes are set, and Restart of Sikeston will offer a fitness interactive game, Hodgekiss said.
"There will be a dance mat on the ground in front of a TV, and the kids can play it by dancing around on the mat," Hodgekiss said.
Sikeston Public Library's children's librarian Ann Thompson will be on hand for storybook times focused on nutrition for kids.
"I would encourage all parents to come out and bring their kids because not only will the kids learn, but adults will learn as well," Urhahn said.
Urhahn said she and her children, ages 5 and 7, have attended the YMCA Healthy Kids Days in the past.
"My kids love it, and they learn in the process. At their age, the fun has to go with the learning for it to stick with them," Urhahn said.
A free parents' guide to protecting the family with information about making sure a home is safe, water safety tips, stranger dangers and fitness will be available. T-shirts, Disney posters and fruit snacks will be distributed.
"It's going to be a chance for kids to come in and have some fun with fitness-
type exercises," Hodgekiss said. "It's good for parents because we'll be giving out ideas so they can make sure they're doing everything they can do to ensure their children grow up in healthy environment and lead a healthy lifestyle."