Amie Hamlin, executive director of New York Coalition for Healthy School Food pauses from mixing her smoothie to encourage a child to grab the light green mixture from the table.

The kids pause with apprehension before sipping the smoothie, but as soon as they’re finished, they’re clearly happy with their adventurous decision. The Super Hero Super Power smoothie is made from soymilk, apple, kale, ice cubes and bananas.

“I’m a huge green smoothie fan,” Hamlin said.  Hamlin says this is the 10th year anniversary of NYCHSF, which develops healthy recipes and educational resources for schools in Ithaca and New York City.

The Event

Hamlin is one of many vendors at Healthy Kids Day at the Ithaca YMCA. The event is free for families and is part of a national YMCA event to promote healthy physical activity.  Along with Hamlin, the vendors include the Tompkins County Library, Music and Motion, YMCA Karate, Dan the Snake Man, the Tompkins County Solid Waste, Armstrong School of Dance, ICircus and Cayuga Medical Center for Healthy Living.

Vendors like the Armstrong School of Dance performed for an audience, and many of the child performers spent the rest of the time enjoying the large bouncy house in the corner of the room, getting their face painted, or using mats to work on designated physical activities, like jumping jacks or wall sits.

YMCA hoped to have 100 kids attend the event, and according to Laurie Cuomo, Health and Wellness Director, they surpassed their goal. Cindy Gordon is one of many who attended the event with her three children. Her daughter, Brooke, is a part of the Armstrong School of Dance and the family attended the event to watch her performance.

Backstory of Healthy Kids Day

According to Cuomo, Healthy Kids Day is a community-organized event that includes not only the Ithaca YMCA, but also invites the community to “educate and celebrate healthy children.”

The event encourages both fun activities and more educational material, Cuomo said.  The event even provided healthy fruit snacks for the families as they participated in the activities.

Cuomo said that they promote,  “healthy lifestyles, so that will incorporate activities and recreational, physical fitness, nutrition, any spectrum.

When the YMCA first started to host the event, it originally “showcased just what we did in the YMCA, and then we decided to collaborate with the rest of the community,” says Cuomo.

Health in the United States

According to the American Heart Association, around one in three children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese and childhood obesity has become the number one health concern for kids in the United States.  Educational programs like the YMCA work to help combat these growing trends.

Encouraging children to partake in healthy activities, like those showcased at Healthy Kids Day, can lead to a lifetime of good choices.

“Eating healthy, and exercising, is really important to be happy and healthy,” Hamlin said.