ids love going outside and being active. But when they don’t know what to do, screen time is often the result.
That’s why experts say it’s best to give kids opportunities for physically active fun – and for parents to get in on the good times.
To help with that, UnitedHealthcare recently partnered with Fit Kids 360, a program of Wayne Children’s Healthcare Access Program, for the first annual UHC Field Day on Aug. 16.
The event, held at Golightly Educational Center in Detroit, invited kids from the Fit Kids 360 program, UnitedHealthcare members and people in the local community to come and enjoy a day of outdoor fun – a rarity at a time when fewer schools are offering field days and kids are spending less time being active.
“We wanted to have something that was available to the families in the summertime that was a free event and a fun outing for the family,” says Krista Siddall, director of programming and operations for the Wayne Children’s Healthcare Access Program. “It also gave them a chance to find resources within their community. We had a lot of community resources there that offered different programs and services regarding family health and wellness.”
Fit Kids 360 is an eight-week fitness program for overweight children.
“One of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome with Fit Kids is reducing screen time and getting kids physically active,” Siddall says. “We have to make that fun for them because unless they want to do it, they’re going to be inside in front of the TV or in front of the computer.”
By getting the entire family outside having fun, parents went home with new ideas about ways to get their kids more physically activity – including simple backyard games.
“We want to emphasize getting them outside,” she says. “We really hope they’ll do it with their family so they’ll be physically active at least one hour a day.”
Activities included bounce houses, ring toss, face painting, obstacle courses and an area for toddlers. Food, dancing and a DJ were also featured. UnitedHealthcare and Fit Kids 360 collaborated on the event as a way to promote health and wellness, Siddall explains.
“Obviously that’s what Fit Kids does, and UnitedHealthcare is working on the same mission,” she says. “That support is key because as a nonprofit, we’re operated mostly by grants. This is a way that we can provide some additional outreach to the community to not only support families in learning to have a healthy lifestyle but also provide some resources to help them continue that journey.”
Representatives from a total of 17 community resources were present at the event, including Brilliant Detroit, Michigan State University Extension, the Detroit Health Department, Reach Out and Read and more. About 130 people attended the event.
“We had a number of families come up and give us big giant hugs and say, ‘We’re so glad you were able to have this event,’” Siddall says. “Part of it is seeing the support of other people that are having the same challenges that they are.”
One of those challenges, she says, is finding places where their kids can play.
“Some families find it very hard to send their kids outside to play or find safe, family-fun events to be active,” Siddall says. “To be able to offer that to the community is something that we’re really happy to do and hope to do more of.”
Behavioral modifications don’t always come quickly or easily, but small steps can lead to big changes.
“There are a lot of resources in the community that are free that families don’t know about,” she adds. “The more events we can offer like this to get their kids out and active, the more we’re going to see the community change as a whole.”
In addition to Fit Kids 360, the Wayne Children’s Healthcare Access Program also offers cooking classes for kids, asthma education, fitness programs and more. For more information or to get involved, visit wchap.org.