April 14, 2008


YMCA hosts Healthy Kids Day

Event focuses on getting children interested in active lifestyles

Healthy Kids Day

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer  
Chris Chatt, a SUNY Cortland student, helps 8-year-old Michaella Ferro use the climbing wall Saturday at the Cortland YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day.  

Staff Reporter

Several dozen Cortland-area children and their parents gathered Saturday at the YMCA to participate in the first “Healthy Kids Day,” an event designed to get children interested in active lifestyles.
While some children scaled the Y’s rock wall, others jumped into the pool for a family-targeted session of water aerobics.
“Everyone’s getting down to ‘The Twist’” during the water aerobics, said Matt Kemak, the YMCA’s membership services director, who coordinated the Healthy Kids Day event.
The event was part of a nationwide YMCA initiative, and more than 1,700 YMCAs across the country held similar programs Saturday.
Kemak said the YMCA worked with the SUNY Cortland Dance Company and the newly-instituted Lambda Upsilon Lambda, a Latino-based fraternity at the college.
“We think of this as a way to give back to the community,” said Isidro de la Rosa, a member of Lambda Upsilon Lambda. “The first people we thought of were the YMCA.”
De la Rosa worked on organizing the “Brown and Gold” basketball tournament, which he said was designed to help kids learn to work together as a team.
“This isn’t an individual sport,” he said. “We want to teach them (the children) to be united.”
Kemak said families that participated received “starter kits” for the new “Healthy Family Home” program, which provides tips to incorporate physical activity and healthy nutrition into everyday family life.
“YMCA Healthy Kids Day shows families and kids that making healthy choices can be easy, fun and accessible to everyone,” Kemak said.
Saturday’s event began at 10 a.m. with an open gym session and free swimming evaluations.
At 11, SUNY students, including members of Lambda Upsilon Lambda, supervised organized sports, including the Brown and Gold basketball tournament. From noon to 1 p.m., the gym and pool were opened up, and at 1, members of the SUNY Cortland Dance Company led participants in a hip-hop dance session in the YMCA’s downstairs aerobics classroom.
“It’s a fun and easy thing you can just have fun with,” said Rachel Gorman, co-chairman of the dance company, after leading a group of kids through the “Cha-Cha/Electric Slide.”
Gorman, a Brooklyn native, said she has been dancing since she was 3.
“The kids seem to have fun with the hip-hop,” she said. “We got the parents involved also, so that helps.”
Sophomore Michelle Wolinsky and senior Sarah Bermudez, Long Island natives, helped Gorman lead parents and children in the “Macarena” to wrap up the day.
Kemak said the event was well-attended, but that there could always be more. He said about 70 people attended total, including 50 to 60 children.
De la Rosa said every child who participated in the basketball tournament received a gold medal.
“We consider everyone a winner,” he said.