A free summer program is teaching children about the importance of both nutrition and outdoor physical activity.
The National Trail Parks and Recreation District and the Clark County Ohio State University Extension office held the first of five Health Nuts Mini Camps on June 10 at the Buck Creek Nature Park.
“We thought there was a need for kids to be more physically active and to eat healthier,” NTPRD Recreation Specialist Penny Dunbar said.
About 46 percent of middle school students are either overweight or obese, according to the 2015 Clark County Middle School Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The Springfield City School District also recently decided to spend $200,000 to add more gym teachers at its elementary schools.
Research shows children are healthier when activities are done outside, OSU Extension Educator Kathy Green said. Green taught a similar camp in Butler County, she said.
Last Friday, participants — ages 7 to 12 — used hands-on activities to learn about goal setting.
“It gives them an idea of things that are truly measurable and what those goals look like,” Green said.
Later topics will include healthy bones and teeth, fruits and vegetables, hidden sugars and portion sizes, as well as a mud obstacle course on July 15.
“Each week we’ll have a different topic,” Green said.
The Community Health Foundation provided a nearly $3,000 grant to present the program free of charge, which paid for all snacks and supplies.
It’s perfect for children looking for activities in the summer, Springfield resident Larissa Willmeth said, who brought her children, Elijah, 12, and Scarlet, 8.
“I thought it was great that they had something free,” Willmeth said.
While her children get plenty of education at home, the camp is a good way to be active and learn more about nutrition, she said.
“Food-wise, I try to give them the right foods,” Willmeth said.
The camps will continue from 10 a.m. to noon June 17 and 25, as well as July 8 and 15. Registration is required before each mini camp and can be completed at NTPRD.org. For more information, call 937-328-7275.
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