Healthy Kids Day growing up

National YMCA event sees largest attendance yet

Kelly Sullivan

The Shipleys came to Healthy Kids Day at the Monroe and Sky Valley Family YMCA after taking a Saturday morning workshop on staying safe at home and in the community.

This year’s event was hard to miss.

Milena and her younger brother Aiden spent the next hour doing laps around the facility’s gym, learning about local services, trying activities like volleyball, and ticking off stops in their passport, which would result in some prizes once complete.

“It’s Healthy Kids Day no matter what city you are in,” said YMCA senior program director and Healthy Kids Day organizer Jamie Williams.

Healthy Kids Day is a national event that connects families with services and builds relationships in the community, Williams said. It is free and open to anyone — not just members, she said.

The day marks the start of summer, and is a reminder to enter into the extended vacation with maintaining health and activity in mind. Kids tend to gain more weight and fall behind in their studies during the season, according to the YMCA.

“Summer is the time for kids to get up, get out and grow,” according to the organization. “But for some kids, exposure to activities that stimulate the body and mind ends with the school year.”

The national nonprofit has a presence in 10,000 neighborhoods in the United States. The association was founded in 1851 as a meeting ground for young men experiencing hardship and retains its original aim to meet the social needs of a community and encourage a diverse membership.

YMCA programs put a focus on healthy living, youth development and social responsibility. The YMCA of Snohomish County has been around for more than a century. The Monroe branch is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Williams said this year had the most participation by far, which was the goal. Dozen of vendors lined the walls of the gym, and obstacle courses were set up in the center of the cavernous room. More than 300 people had stopped in by noon.

Families gathered around Dr. Raymond Max, owner of Dr. Max Orthodontics in Monroe, to learn about keeping teeth clean. Siblings sat on the floor for craft projects. The bouncy house was constantly occupied. Outside, kids had the chance to hop in an Evergreen Speedway racecar and shake hands with Fire District 7 firefighters.

Aiden Shipley’s favorite part of the day was learning a new approach to gardening from Home Depot staff. His mother, Melissa, said she usually buys starts, and using the planting materials they were given at the booth allows the family a chance to work more with seeds.

Aiden’s older sister Milena hopped with excitement while showing her mom the dog treats she got from Sam’s Cats and Dogs, Naturally. Xander Douglas said he liked stopping at the Pharm A Save Monroe table. He got a bunch of free games, including a Rubik’s Cube. He had just jumped out of a racecar in the YMCA parking lot. 

“I could barely touch the pedals,” he admitted.

Pharmacy manager Bridgett Edgar was manning the Pharm A Save station Saturday. She was there to let parents know about the free kids vitamins program. Bottles for children can be picked up from the store at any time. She also handed out pamphlets on the used medication drop-off.

“It’s a great way for us to connect with families,” Edgar said about Healthy Kids Day.

Xander Douglas’ mom, Patty, said they have been YMCA members for years. They had been to past events, and put the date in their calendars when they saw it was coming up again. This year was bigger and better than they remember, she said.

Williams said the goal was to reach 400 kids, family and community members at this year’s event. Businesses and organizations were invited, including everyone who participated in previous Healthy Kids Days.

At its foundation, the idea is to provide a time for kids to enjoy themselves and be at their best, Williams said. She most enjoyed interacting with and watching kids react to the different activities. They would brighten up and congratulate each other after an accomplishment, she said.

“That’s the best part,” she said.


Photos by Kelly Sullivan: Xander Douglas tests out an Evergreen Speedway racecar at the Monroe and Sky Valley Family YMCA Healthy Kids Day in Monroe on Saturday, April 21. Families wait in line for balloon animals at the Monroe and Sky Valley Family YMCA Healthy Kids Day.Milena Shipley talks to Pharma A Save pharmacy manager Bridgett Edgar.


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