Monday, Sep 15, 2014
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Gills YMCA celebrates Healthy Kids Day


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Many youngsters look forward to going to the beach every day, family vacations, and of course, no school!

But what if instead of going out and enjoying the summer sun, children just sit on the couch and their eyes never leave the television screen for three months? The YMCA set out to make sure that your kids have an active and healthy summer.

Last Saturday, YMCA facilities across America celebrated Healthy Kids Day to motivate kids to stay active during the summer.

James P. Gills Family Branch of the Clearwater-based YMCA of the Suncoast participated in the event, complete with vendors, games and soccer. The event featured several YMCA soccer teams of all ages.

There also were a variety of businesses and nonprofit groups, including Publix, Safari Dental, Walgreens, Select Physical Therapy, Chick-fil-A and Safe Kids Florida.

Balloon animals, hula hooping, bean-bag toss and a bouncy house also enchanted many youngsters.

Jennifer Quijada, the aquatics director at the Gills YMCA, believed that kids should stay active all year long, not just three months out of the year. “We just think it’s really important to keep kids healthy all throughout the year,” Quijada said. “We want to promote healthy habits, not just healthy eating.”

The event had a great turnout, and many of the guests that attended were already involved in the YMCA.

Patty Stohl, a new YMCA member to the association, attended because she wants to make sure her daughters stay healthy when school gets out.

“I want to keep my kids active by doing things,” Stohl said, “not just sit around the house and watch television.”

Katie Clifford, an employee of the local YMCA branch, said that the event spreads awareness about healthy habits and what the Gills Branch has to offer.

“It helps them educate their families more on a healthier lifestyle,” Clifford said. “It also lets them know that we are not just a gym. We do offer programs for children as well as adults.”

The Gills Branch features many activities for all age groups, including a gymnasium, a climbing wall, a fitness center and two aquatic venues. They also summer camp programs for different age groups, such as art, cooking camp, basketball, football baseball, and dance camps of all genres.

The James P. Gills Family Branch is at 8411 Photonics Drive. To learn more, call (727) 375-9622.

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