Metro YMCA hosts family events celebrating healthy eating and fitness
A smoothie contest, food demonstrations and parent/children play time are just some of the ways the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges will celebrate Healthy U/Food Day this month.
“Our goal is to inspire families to eat healthy and exercise through these fun-filled events that culminate on Food Day,’’ a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainable food on Oct. 24, said Elizabeth Youngstein, the Metro Y’s director of healthy living.
The Metro Y is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey, serving 35,000 members at the East Orange Y, the Fairview Lake Y in Stillwater, the South Mountain Y in Maplewood, the Sussex County Y in Hardyston, the Wayne Y and the West Essex Y in Livingston.
The Ys will celebrate and recommit to their work of supporting Healthy U, a program created in 2008 by the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance and the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey to combat childhood obesity through nutrition education, physical education and family involvement. Healthy U uses the evidence-based CATCH (coordinated approach to child health) curriculum that promotes the enjoyment of eating healthy and being physically active every day.
“The celebrations on Oct. 24 and the week leading up to it kick off a commitment to a healthy lifestyle that will benefit children throughout their lives,’’ Youngstein said.
East Orange YMCA
The Y’s preschool and school age childcare programs will use artwork to highlight children’s understanding between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods. They are working on art projects displaying Healthy U messages that will be displayed at the Oct. 24 celebration.
South Mountain YMCA
The Y’s early child learning center will be teaching children about healthy foods in the week leading up to Oct. 24. On Food Day, parents are invited to the classroom to make breakfasts with fruits and vegetables, and children will hear food stories, learn about nutrition and play CATCH games.
The Y’s school age childcare program will host a Play Day on Oct. 24 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. for students and parents at each site. Participants will play team-building sports like volleyball, relay races and brain games and make their own drinks at a juice station stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt, honey and ice.
Sussex County YMCA
At the Kids Night Out Healthy U Kick-Off, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Oct. 24, families can play CATCH games, swim, participate in an active music concert and eat healthy snacks. Children and parents will be encouraged to sign a Healthy U banner that features children’s pledges to make healthy choices.
In the week leading up to Kids Night Out, children in the Y’s Aftercare programs will prepare healthy snacks and enjoy them family style, and then share some with parents at pickup time. The Y is sending home with children a newsletter about the Healthy U program and family nutrition tips.
Healthy snacks are also being shared with school administration, secretaries, teachers, and support staff to thank them for continuing to support the health of children.
The Y’s school age childcare program and the early childhood learning center is inviting parents to a healthy cooking class on Food Day to learn how to make fruit kabobs, yogurt parfaits and fruit pizza. Afterward, parents and children can play CATCH games in the gym.
The Y’s early childhood learning center will provide a “Breakfast to Go’ of oatmeal and toppings to parents at drop-off on Food Day, and ShopRite will run cooking demonstrations for children. The ECLC will also kick off its ‘Share a Healthy Snack’ program, in which families bring in a snack to share with the class.
West Essex YMCA
The Y’s school age childcare program is participating in the first annual Healthy Smoothie Contest, with kids experimenting to create a recipe that is both healthy and delicious. The top three recipes chosen by ShopRite dietician Christine Patorniti will compete for the top honor at the Y’s Fall Family Fun Festival on Sunday, October 19.
Recipes will be posted at www.facebook.com/LivingstonFoodDay
The Y, in partnership with the Livingston Food Day committee, has already hosted food-themed film screening, a quinoa and chili cook-off, and a ‘Stuff the Bus’ food drive, among other events.