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Jeff Long: Fitness Fun Fair a great play for kids, families

Teaching children thexercise is fun enjoyable activity – not task – will be central theme next Saturday during free Fitness

Teaching children that exercise is a fun, enjoyable activity – and not a task – will be the central theme next Saturday during the free Fitness Fun Fair for Kids at the Vaughan Athletic Center. | Submitted

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Upcoming

Saturday, Feb. 9: Hello Kitty’s Valentine Party, Prisco Community Center, noon to 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 10: Love & Laughter: Cupid’s Valentine Variety Show, Prisco Community Center, 3 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 16: Free Fitness Fun Fair for Kids, Vaughan Athletic Center, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Updated: March 8, 2013 7:16AM



Admit it — you’re one of “them.”

You’re one of those parents who tells the kids to take a break from Xbox and PlayStation. You implore them to get out of the gaming chair, go outside and play, stop texting and “get off the computer already!”

Yeah, I’m one of those parents, too — exhausted and exasperated. The kids call us “mean,” but we mean well.

In defense of the kids, gaming is fun — and fun is a rite of childhood. But for the sake of their health, their well-being and their future, incorporating fitness into their fun — and vice versa — makes for a winning game plan.

That’s what the Fitness Fun Fair for Kids aims to do. Next Saturday (Feb. 16), from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Vaughan Athletic Center, kids and families take center stage at this gala event that will spotlight health and fitness among the younger generation.

And, like the best things in life, the Fitness Fun Fair is free to all who attend.

Despite all our technological luxuries, the pursuit of fitness still requires exercise and play — yes, physical activity. Sending five texts in one minute doesn’t count as an aerobic workout.

By and large, we — and our children — weigh too much and exercise too little. It’s a societal issue that’s no longer exclusive to adults. Childhood obesity has become a national epidemic and one of the country’s biggest public health challenges.

One of every three children in the United States is overweight or, worse, obese. In 1990, just 6.5 percent of U.S. children ages 6 to 11 years old were considered obese, but that percentage rose to almost 20 percent by 2010. That’s a three-fold increase — alarming.

With guidance and education, children can start on the right path early and develop beneficial habits that will increase the likelihood of them living longer, healthier lives.

The Fitness Fun Fair promotes exercise as a way to take care of body, rather than a chore that must be performed. When physical activity is viewed as play and not work, kids are more inclined to get involved and stay involved, setting the foundation for a lifetime of fitness, health and good fun.

“We always emphasize fun in all our youth exercise programs because the whole idea is to get kids excited about being active and staying fit,” said program coordinator Jennifer Manos. “The more they enjoy it, the more likely they are to exercise on a regular basis and view it positively.”

The open-house format at the fair allows families to bounce among numerous activities that include a live DJ, giant inflatables, obstacle course, ZumbAtomic sessions, KitFit demos and loads of other activities designed to endear kids to exercise, er, play.

More than 25 health-conscious vendors will be on hand — ranging from Vertical Endeavors Rock Climbing Facility to Panera Bread, which will be serving bagels, smoothies and teaching families about healthy fast-food options. Youth sports leagues, education forums and a balloon artist will also be among the attractions.

Everybody will be focused on the most important qualities in life — good health and happiness.

Call it play. Call it exercise. Better yet, call it a lifestyle. The kids won’t know the difference. They’ll just reap the rewards — for a lifetime.

Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at jlong@fvpd.net.



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