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Working Together for Healthier Kids

By Abigail Weaver

Working Together for Healthier KidsThe YMCA works every day to strengthen our community, with our youth as a targeted area of focus. Through efforts such as healthy snacks, intentional physical activity, encouragement of  unsweetened beverages, and group games in the Y’s Afterschool and summer Camp programs, the YMCA is seeking to make a positive impact on healthier lifestyles for our kids.

The YMCA also believes in partnering with others in the community with the same goals, which is why we are a Platinum Partner with Healthy Kingsport.  We support their work to make changes in our community’s infrastructure and policies, resulting in healthier people and families. One particular point of commonality is both organizations’ beliefs that “small starts” are an excellent way to integrate healthy choices which can become habits. Everyone has the ability to make small changes in what they eat, what they drink, and how often they move. Going a step further and making these changes together, with people to keep you encouraged and accountable, boosts health in spirit, mind, and body!

In June, Healthy Kingsport received funding from Bank of Tennessee to sponsor kids from several organizations to participate in the Crazy 8’s race. The YMCA HYPE Camp kids (middle schoolers) were able to participate, thanks to this great opportunity! Every Friday, after a full day of camp activities and on the hottest days of the summer, Healthy Kingsport and YMCA staff walked and ran alongside these kids, talking, listening, encouraging, and teaching them how to stretch, increase their stamina, stay hydrated, and most importantly, how to stay together as a team.

Some of the Y kids chose to participate in the 3K Crazy 8’s walk while several others chose to do the whole 8K, and all of them proudly made it to the finish line. Representatives from the Y and Healthy Kingsport ran and walked with the kids, and they came through the finish with many cheering for them as well.

We asked the kids what they learned by participating in the weekly physical activity training. Here are some of their responses:
“I can achieve things that I didn’t think I could do.”
“When you have someone to talk to, the time goes by faster.”
“Physical activity is very important for the mind, the body, and your spirit.”
“I have more endurance than I anticipated.”
“Running isn’t as bad as I thought.” ☺
“I learned to be a better teammate.”
“Never give up!”

It was almost unbelievable that none of them had negative feedback, and we think it was because they knew those helping them believed in them and gave them encouragement, friendship, and accountability.

The epidemic of childhood and adolescent obesity still exists, especially in our region, so it’s imperative to keep focused on the positive steps taking place all around. When teachers, mentors, parents, Healthy Kingsport, the YMCA, and friends all work together, we can make small changes which could greatly impact the future health of our kids.

Another chance for kids, adults, and families to be active together and have (free!) fun is coming on Saturday, November 5th from 10a-1p at Healthy Kingsport’s Walk for Wellness. Check out for more details. Your YMCA friends will be there and would love for you to attend. The Y knows that real and lasting change only occurs when we all work together toward common goals, so let’s continue to build a healthier outlook for our community.

The YMCA provides ongoing opportunities for kids and families to be active and healthy through Afterschool, summer Camps, seasonal programs, and year-round health and wellness offerings.
For more information regarding enrollment:

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