Burning calories for fun: Healthy Kids day at the Y attracts 150 youngsters

Special to the Eagle

They ran relay races, enjoyed Zumba dance sessions, rode mini treadmills and drummed themselves into a joyful frenzy as they beat out rhythms on big rubber balance balls.

Goodness, did those kids ever burn calories during the Greater Marco Family YMCA’s annual Healthy Kids Day held recently at the organization’s youth development center.

Participants were elementary school children from Marco as well as Parkside and Manatee Elementary schools from East Naples, all enjoying the variety of activities on tap.

Brooklyn Tolar radiates the fun of a Zumba session.

“Healthy Kids Day is a national Y initiative,” said local Y school age manager Charlene Garcia. “It kicks off the summer and showcases some of the programs we offer.”

Those programs are offered locally, as well as at the two above mentioned schools that are situated in economically disadvantaged areas. They benefit from the Marco Y’s outreach efforts.

Besides all the physical activities, the youngsters also enjoyed a little mental exercise courtesy of a ‘make and take’ art project overseen by the United Arts Council.

On hand inside too, was Cindy Gallo, a community clinician with the David Lawrence Center. The Center, which offers therapy for children and parents for various sociological needs, is the Marco Y’s latest partner.

Gallo is available on Marco on Wednesdays.

Garcia was pleased about the turnout for the event, which attracted about 100 children from the two East Naples schools, and 40 from Marco.

“We start meeting and planning for this in January,” Garcia said, paying tribute to more than a dozen school age program staffers who help things run smoothly.

A highlight towards the end of the evening was a draw for eight bicycles, which are a traditional donation from Bikes for Tykes.

“The winners (mostly from Parkside Elementary School by chance) were really happy,” Garcia said, “and couldn’t wait to tell their parents.”

For more information on the Greater Marco Family YMCA’s wide variety of programs and activities for youth and adults (as well as the new partnership with the David Lawrence Center) visit marcoymca.org or call 394-3144. A phone app is also available.