Whether you’re parent, kid or community member there are plenty of ways you can help make 2020 a healthy new year.

For parents:

• Purchase a fruit or vegetable you child has never tried. The markets are loaded with various selections from all over the world. Try a mango. Once you figure out how to peel it, your child will want to eat one every day.

A good place to experiment with vegetables is in the greens section. Things like turnip greens, collard greens, pea pod leaf, and other leafy vegetables can be cooked up in delicious healthy ways. Greens sautéed with a little olive oil with tasty spices provides a low-calorie high nutrition side dish. Another idea for getting your child to eat more vegetables is to serve them in a completely different way. Take that same cabbage you would use for a traditional boiled dinner shred it and stir fry it with some Asian spices for a completely different taste experience.

• Encourage your children to walk more. This can start by having them walk from your house to the school bus stop every school day. Every morning I see caring parents parked on the side of the road with their cars running waiting for the bus. Let the kids walk. I have estimated a student could easily add a half mile of walking to their daily physical activity by just walking to and from the bus stop. That may not sound like much but that weekly increase of 2.5 miles of walking is like having an additional gym class every week.

For kids:

• Unplug. Privately listening to music is a wonderful thing where it is appropriate. But is it appropriate when you are with other people? Please occasionally pull those buds from your ears and engage in life, birds singing, a child laughing, word from a friend who may be want to talk to you. Those moments you cannot get back.

• Discover a new physical activity. It can be a new sport, a new game to play with friends or possibly a new school, YMCA, or recreation department program. There are encouraging signs that both girls and boys are doing just this. One of the trends I am seeing is there are more girls skateboarding. Keep it up girls! The Attleboro Y Youth Track and Field program saw a 20% increase in participation over last year mostly from girls high jumping. This is a very, non-conventional activity for middle school age girls.

For our community:

• Offer a non-sports after-school physical activity in all schools. I highly support sports programing for after school but I realized many young people do not have an interest in sports. We are missing that population. Dance, yoga, jump rope, pick-up playground games, and varied forms of aerobic classes would provide physical activity opportunities for more students.

• Nontraditional sport activities are another area where the YMCA, recreation departments and schools can get more kids involved in vigorous activities.

Activities like skateboarding, freestyle BMX, and parkour (noncompetitive freestyle running) would encourage an entirely different group of kids to be active.

Coach Ed is the Youth Wellness Specialist /Track Coach at the Attleboro YMCA. Contact him at epoirier@attleboroymca.org.

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