---- — PLATTSBURGH — As the summer solstice approaches, area families will have an opportunity to take advantage of the longest day of the year by playing games and having all sorts of fun.
The Clinton County Health Department will be hosting the first ever Longest Day of Play on Friday, June 21, on the U.S. Oval. Field-day games, relay races, sidewalk-chalk painting and a fun run on the Terry Gordon Memorial Bike Path are just a few of the activities children and their parents can enjoy.
“We want to encourage children and their families to be more physically active,” said Karen Derusha, principal public-health educator for the Clinton County Health Department. “We liked the idea of using the summer solstice to promote physical activity all day long.”
Organizers have chosen to hold the event on the summer solstice, which literally provides the most daylight of the year.
Activities will get under way with an early yoga stretch conducted by members of the YMCA at 6:30 a.m. A Fitness for Life Walk, hosted by the Town of Plattsburgh Recreation Department, will begin at 9 a.m.
“Our goal is to provide a variety of physical-activity opportunities for all family members,” Derusha said.
“We know that obesity rates are climbing nationally, and we’re seeing it here as well,” said Suzanne LaBorde, a public-health nurse for the Clinton County Health Department. “One in three children are obese or overweight, and adults are following a similar trend.
“We talk to people about exercise and getting fit, but that doesn’t always sound like fun,” she added. “We’re hoping this event will give families an opportunity to see that exercise can be fun.”
The Clinton County Youth Bureau will host several youth-oriented activities designed specifically to be fun (while the kids happen to be exercising).
“We’re going to offer them fun and games,” said Molly Flynn, recreation director for the Clinton County Youth Bureau.
Those activities, including relay races, tug-of-war and parachute games, combine fun with exercise as kids get to test their skills in several areas, Flynn noted.
Parachute games involve a group of children standing in a circle while holding a large parachute-type object. As the kids move their hands up and down, the material almost takes on a life of its own as it dances in the wind with the rhythm the participants provide.
Members of the Clinton County Youth Court will be on hand to assist with the activities.
“It will be like field days at the end of the (school) year,” Flynn said. “We’ll split the kids into even teams and have a good time.”
“It’s geared toward kids of all ages,” Derusha said. “The adult activities will be centered more toward the morning, but the entire day will be family-oriented.”
There will also be a Tick Tock Around the Clock exercise program by Kynberlie Sweenor of Rxercise, Zumba for Adults hosted by the YMCA and Disc Golf hosted by the Town of Plattsburgh.
The City of Plattsburgh Recreation Department and Family Connections will also have a hand in the day’s events.
“The kids are our future,” said Steve Peters, City of Plattsburgh Recreation Department director. “Anything we can do to help make lifestyle changes easier is better for us all.”
Regular physical activity improves health, builds muscle and maintains bones. Regular activity also reduces the feelings of anxiety and depression and promotes academic success.
The event is free, but all children must be accompanied by an adult. All adults and children must register. Registration at the gazebo on the Oval lawn includes a waiver and photo release.
In the event of bad weather, some activities may be moved to the City Recreation Center.
Food and beverages will not be available, but families are welcome to bring their own.
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TO LEARN MORE
The Longest Day of Play is from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, June 21, on the U.S. Oval in Plattsburgh. For a complete list of activities, visit www.clintonhealth.org.