Healthy Kids Day mixes fun activities, serious topics - April 25, 2015

Courtesy of NWI Times
April 25, 2015 5:15 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Lorraine Hattabaugh brought her four children to the Valparaiso YMCA on Saturday hoping they would learn more about what it means to be healthy.

“I wanted to show them that being healthy is an everyday thing,” she said. “If they know about it, they’ll do it.”

Hattabaugh and her children — Kylie, 8, Shane, 7, Lia, 5, and Madeline, 3 — were among an estimated 300 people attending the Y’s annual Healthy Kids Day.

Co-sponsored by Methodist Hospitals, the event was open to the community and featured both physical activities and educational booths.

Kids enjoyed activities such as a bounce house, obstacle course, first tee golf, scavenger hunt, food fun cafe, Zumba and swimming, while parents collected information on diabetes prevention, substance abuse prevention, scoliosis, dental care and nutrition.

Chuck Gutzwiller, senior director of aquatics and wellness at the Valparaiso YMCA, said Healthy Kids Day is held at YMCAs throughout the country each year.

“The purpose is to provide families with information about health and wellness and to encourage a healthy lifestyle from a young age,” he said.

Carolyn Sakelaris, a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator with Methodist Hospitals, sat next to a table covered with brochures on diabetes prevention.

While Type 1 diabetes is inherited, Type 2 diabetes usually results from “too many trips to McDonalds and not enough trips to the Y,” Sakelaris said.

Diabetes typically shows up in school-age children around the time of puberty, but there have been children as young as age 6 diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, she said.

Parents should be aware of the signs of diabetes, such as a child drinking more water, losing weight and suddenly becoming a bedwetter, Sakelaris said.

Jennifer Mullen, trauma program coordinator at Methodist Hospitals, staffed a table with information about other serious topics: child poisoning and car seat safety.

“Poisoning is the leading cause of death in children,” she said.

Car accidents also are a major cause of death. Parents need to know how to properly restrain young children in car seats, and teenager drivers should be taught the dangers of being distracted while driving.

Besides being inexperienced drivers, teenagers are vulnerable to being distracted by other people in their car, talking on their cell phones or texting while driving.

“Drivers ages 16 to 20 cause the most accidents of all age groups,” Mullen said.