YMCA of Southern Maine targets childhood obesity

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PORTLAND — All four branches of the YMCA of Southern Maine are celebrating national Heathy Kids Day on Saturday, April 26, in an effort to combat childhood obesity.

The free event runs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the YMCAs in Portland, Freeport, New Gloucester and Biddeford.

The annual event is celebrated by YMCAs throughout the United States and has been part of the programming at YMCA of Southern Maine for “many, many years,” according to Anne-Marie Brown, executive director of Pineland YMCA in New Gloucester.

Activities will vary at each location, Brown said.

In Freeport, organizers will host a “fun run” and a demonstration of Zumba geared for kids. In Portland, the offerings include hula-hooping and juggling. In Biddeford, skateboarding, creative movement and face painting. In New Gloucester, the event includes a karate demonstration and an “inflatable boot camp,” which Brown described as an obstacle course within an inflatable “bounce house.”

The effort is meant to improve families’ health and well-being, in the face of alarming U.S. trends, Brown said.

“We’re all aware of national statistics on the health and obesity levels of children. The Y is positioned well in the community to combat that and to help parents and families learn how to live healthier lives,” she said. “We want to help motivate and inspire families to do it together.”

For more information and full lists of activities at each location, visit ymcaofsouthernmaine.org.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.