YMCA event encourages safe, healthy kids

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

Community organizations will come together Saturday for Safe Kids and Healthy Kids Day, an event filled with indoor and outdoor activities at the YMCA that aim to make learning more fun for children and their parents.

“It is going to be really fun,” said Lisa Rogers Thomas, deputy director of Child Development Resources and one of the event’s organizers. “It turned out to be much bigger of an event than we’ve done in the past.”

Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center heads Safe Kids Historic Triangle Williamsburg, a local coalition of the global Safe Kids organization, which works to educate families about safety. More than 200 such coalitions throughout the country are hosting similar Safe Kids events Saturday. Organizers behind the Williamsburg affair saw an opportunity to team up with the R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA, with a tradition of hosting a Healthy Kids Day, to encourage even more positivity.

It’s a vast collaborative effort, with entities such as The Y, Sentara, BikeWalk Williamsburg, city and country police and fire departments, W-JCC Public Schools and others joining forces. Thomas said she expects close to 300 attendees.

The event emphasizes road safety, which Thomas said was a result of research showing motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury for children. Upon arrival, a car seat safety check will greet families, and information about proper restraints, safely crossing the street, the dangers of texting while driving and other road safety tips fill the rest of the day.

“It’s not really anything new. It’s just this constant reminder,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot to think about.”

BikeWalk Williamsburg will be onsite for a bike rodeo, giving out free helmets while offering safety tips and the chance to hone cycling skills. Children are encouraged to bring their own bikes for a tune-up.

Activities such as a bounce house, Zumba, face painting and swim time — for those who bring their own bathing suit and towel — provide some fun to go along with the facts. The James City County monster truck will make an appearance, while Earth Fare will offer snacks that encourage a healthy lifestyle. The Drew Ballantyne Band will serenade the crowd with live music throughout the day.

Organizers also invited public officials to come out and engage with the community during the event; Sen. Monty Mason, Del. Mike Mullin, W-JCC School Board Chairwoman Kyra Cook and other representatives from the three localities will be in attendance.

Thomas said the goal is to offer families a fun day out and appeal to childen of all ages.

“There’s something for everyone,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a really cool event.”

Want to go?

Safe Kids and Healthy Kids Day runs 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the R.F. Wilkinson Family YMCA, 301 Sentara Circle. Free and open to the public.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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