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Heart of the Valley YMCA is offering tips for families, especially children, to have a healthy summer. PHOTO / Heart of the Valley YMCA

Hogan Family YMCA can boost children’s summer lifestyle, offers $0 join fee

MADISON COUNTY – A few common-sense practices can boost a child’s health and demeanor during the summer months, and Hogan Family YMCA is endorsing the ideas with $0 join fee in April.

“Many families join the Y for discounts on summer programs, so the Y is making membership more affordable by waiving join fees in April,” Mary Anne Swanstrom said. Swanstrom is Director of Communications for Heart of the Valley YMCA.

“When children are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Research shows, without access to out-of-school learning activities, kids fall behind academically,” Swanstrom said.

Youth often gain weight twice as fast during summer than the school year. The Y wants families to focus on helping children imagine what they can accomplish over the summer.

“When children are healthy, happy and supported they can make great things happen,” Sharon Allen said. Allen works as Director of Fitness and Corporate Wellness at Southeast Family YMCA. “We believe in the potential of all children, and we strive to help kids find that potential within themselves.”

A child’s development is never on vacation, Allen said.

The Y offers these tips to develop lasting habits this summer:

* High Five fruits and veggies — Confirm that youth eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and veggies daily, as nutritionists suggest.

* Get moving – Physical activity also can help children flex their brain power. Use materials uniquely, such as asking youth to build models, to manipulate tools or to develop their own theatrical scenes.

* Read together — Visit the neighborhood branch of Huntsville – Madison County Public Library for vast choices in media. Create a family reading challenge to see who can log the most minutes of reading. Encourage youth to create their own stories.

* Play together — Active play, especially outdoors, is an excellent way to avoid childhood obesity.

* Make sleep a priority — Doctors recommend 10 to 12 hours of sleep daily for children from 5 to 12 years old. Adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. “Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory and learning,” Swanstrom said.

To promote healthier lifestyles, Hogan Family YMCA and Southeast Family YMCA conducted a free community event, Healthy Kids Day, on April 17.

For more information, call 256-705-9622 or visit ymcahuntsville.org/events.

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