Ditch the Screens and Unleash Your Child’s Inner Athlete
Ah, summer break as a child in the days of yore.
Before our modern technology overload – smartphones, social media, social gaming, streaming television and more – summer meant playing and running outside with your friends, climbing trees, riding bikes, swimming all day and coming home as the streetlights lit up. And perhaps, for a week or two, summer could mean family trips or day camps.
However, for most children today, the picture of summer as a season to freely increase their physical activity outside has evolved into a new picture: a mostly sedentary summer, indoors, with children glued to their smartphones and computers.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children spend more than seven and a half hours per day on screens, including smartphones, computers, televisions and video games. HHS also reports that only one in three children is physically active every day.
Summer presents the ideal recipe to cook-up young couch-potatoes. No school plus no homework amounts to increased screen time, which requires little or no physical activity.
Fortunately, parents can find the antidote to sedentary summers at the local YMCA, where parents can easily, and affordably, infuse their child’s summer with a healthy dose of physical activity.
This summer the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina is offering its annual Kids Triathlon fitness programs and events to revive your child’s physical activity and competitive spirit. The triathlons involve swimming, biking and running and teach children how to transition from one sport to the next for their peak performance in the final triathlon.
YMCA launched the annual Kids Triathlon 17 years ago “as a way to get kids involved in the fastest growing sports in the U.S.,” according to YMCA’s Healthy Living Director, Aileen Sutton. “The event sits so well in the Y’s area of focus for youth development and healthy living. The triathlon inspires kids to get moving and often gets the parents moving alongside them,” Ms. Sutton says.
This year’s event features two fresh, new additions as well – a tot-sized swim/run triathlon for toddlers, aged 3 to 4, and a Teen Triathlon, for teenagers aged 14 to 17 years old.
In addition to getting your children to break a sweat, the competitions provide other priceless character-building skills and tools we gain from participating in individual and team sports and competitions. YMCA’s Kids Triathlon competitions strive to build children’s self-esteem, teamwork skills, self-discipline, sportsmanship and healthy ambition.
Ms. Sutton points out another benefit of the tri-sport event, which demands persistence and motivation along with athletic ability.
“The triathlon, as a sport, gives kids the opportunity to participate in an event that requires them to be independent and do their personal best effort,” she says.
Given the dire statistics on children and physical activity, parents should take advantage of this opportunity to elevate and maximize their children’s athletic abilities in a positive upbuilding, fun and encouraging environment. After completing the triathlons, your child will end his or her summer as a powerhouse trifecta – a stronger swimmer, biker and runner.
The YMCA offers the following participation options for its upcoming Kids Triathlon program.
For a Trial Run
Kids Triathlon Clinic & Mini Triathlon
For those children not quite ready for the full, triathlon commitment, this program allows children to dabble in the triathlon pool and experience a triathlon without the energy and time commitment required for the longer, final Kids Triathlon. This Mini Triathlon and Mini Clinic is a one-day, two-hour event.
This program offers an opportunity for your children to hone their swimming, biking and running skills in a supportive yet competitive environment. The first hour is devoted to training for the Mini Triathlon via two clinics, practicing swimming and triathlon transitioning. The second hour is devoted to a mini Triathlon competition, which includes swimming, biking and running.
Key Details on the Kids Triathlon Clinic & Mini Triathlon:
Date: Saturday August 10th
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
New Additions: Activities for All in the Grand Three-Day Triathlon Finale
YMCA’s 17th Annual Wilmington Kids Triathlon
The YMCA’s 17th Annual Wilmington Kids Triathlon has amped up its activities and closing competitions this year. For the first time, the event is packing its fitness activities over a three-day weekend. This popular annual event encompasses a broad range of events and activities for children of all ages, including older teens this year.
The three-day family fun event, co-sponsored by Dimock, Weinberg and Cherry, DDS and Engineering Software Solutions, will also feature family-oriented games, entertainment and activities for the event’s spectators and participants.
All participants in the triathlons will receive participation medals and tee-shirts. Given all the hard-work and effort the children expend to get to the finish line, there are no losers in YMCA’s Kids Triathlons. The top three females and males in each age division will be awarded trophies. With SetUp, a top-notch event production company, orchestrating the event, participants will receive the ultimate triathlon experience.
Key Details for YMCA’s 17th Annual Wilmington Kids Triathlon:
Aquatot Splash & Dash
Friday, August 16th at 6 p.m.
A special swim/run event for children aged 3 to 4 years old. This event includes a 25-yard swim and 400-yard run around YMCA’s track.
YMCA Kids Triathlon Race
Saturday, August 17th at 8:00 a.m.
Day 2’s swim/bike/run triathlon features four different age divisions and the following obstacle courses for each division:
Ages 5-6: Swim 25 yards, Bike 1 mile, Run 0.5 mile
Ages 7-8: Swim 50 yards, Bike 2 miles, Run 0.5 mile
Ages 9-10: Swim 100 yards, Bike 2 miles, Run 1 mile
Ages 11-12: Swim 200 yards, Bike 3 miles, Run 2 miles
1st Annual YMCA Teen Triathlon
Sunday, August 18th at 8:00 a.m.
This year older teens can compete among their peers in a swim/bike/run triathlon designed for those aged 14 to 17 years old. Participants in the Teen Triathlon must swim 300 yards, bike 4 miles and run 2.5 miles.
Join YMCA’s Family Fun Tradition
Whether your children want to participate or watch the event to inspire them to participate next year, all are welcome to come and enjoy this annual YMCA tradition. The event sends a positive message to children about the importance of physical fitness and shows them that “moving and grooving” outside the home can be more fun than sitting at home glued to their screens.
Also, this favorite annual YMCA event presents loads of fun for its participants, spectators and organizers.
When asked about her favorite part of the event, Ms. Sutton is enthusiastic about her answer: “Our favorite thing about the Kids Triathlon are the kids! The kids in the event are so determined and yet, are having so much fun. The kids don’t have the specialty gear like adults, so we get bikes with training wheels and pom-poms, bike helmets that are bright pink, and floaties in the pool.”
If only the ultra-serious adult triathlons could be as much fun as this one (perhaps they could learn a thing or two from this YMCA’s Kids Triathlon.)
FOR REGISTRATION AND MORE INFORMATION ON YMCA’S UPCOMING KIDS TRIATHLON:
Parents can register their children and learn more about YMCA’s Kids Triathlon online here. Parents can also contact the Race Coordinator, Ms. Lindsay Peiffer, at Lindsay.Peiffer@ymcasenc.org or 910-251-9622 x266.
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