Shani Hue had never heard of Get Movin’, the free children’s summer activity program in Snohomish County, until her 7-year-old son brought home a notice from school.
Parents and kids who show up at kickoff events Saturday in Lynnwood, Everett and Tulalip will get a packet with 40 suggestions on ways for their children to be active.
What caught Hue’s interest? “The fact that they have different ideas,” she said. “It’s kind of like cooking. It’s always better to have more ideas. Then it doesn’t get boring. It keeps them interested and going.”
Get Movin’ was launched three years ago, part of a countywide effort to encourage kids ages 5 to 17 to be more active and reduce childhood obesity.
Children get prizes, such as free passes for swimming, bowling or ice skating, for being active for at least 30 minutes five times a week. Those who stick with the program for four weeks get a free ticket to an Everett AquaSox baseball game on Aug. 10.
Some of the new incentive prizes this year are free admission to the Evergreen Speedway in Monroe on July 22, climbing at the Lynnwood REI store, a free gymnastics class at The Leading Edge in Everett and a half-price coupon for a youth round of golf at Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville.
“We have rewards that introduce them to activities they may never have had the opportunity to try,” said Caroline Brown, health and fitness director at the Marysville YMCA and a member of the Get Movin’ committee.
The number of children participating in the program has grown steadily since it was first launched three years ago, Brown said.
This year, the goal is to have 3,000 kids participate. Last year, 1,200 kids signed up.
“Our program is growing because the need is growing,” Brown said. “We’re hoping to be part of the solution to this huge epidemic” of childhood obesity. “We want to help them.”
Earlier this month, the Snohomish Health District reported that 16.5 percent of kids don’t get 20 minutes of exercise five or more times a week.
In Snohomish County, about 8 percent of eighth- and 12th-graders are obese, while 10.5 percent of 10th-graders are obese, according to the state Department of Health.
Saturday’s Get Movin’ kickoff events will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Group activities for children are planned at the Lynnwood Athletic Complex and the Everett Mall.
In Lynnwood, activities include cheerleading, pee-wee Pilates, karate, dancing, yoga and soccer. A rally at noon will include a 1-mile walk around the track.
In Everett, events include jazzercise, juggling, jump rope, hula-hoop, gymnastics and tae kwon do.
Three-thousand Get Movin’ T-shirts are available for kids who participate.
Although the program is for kids, Brown said she hopes that families will begin doing outdoor activities together.
“Take a family walk after dinner,” she said. “Join a summer athletic team. Take the family bowling. Go berry picking.
“That’s the key,” Brown said. “The family has to be active together.”
Hue said she plans on taking her children to the Lynnwood kickoff event “and as many of the neighborhood kids as we can get together.”
She said she wanted her 7-year-old son, Deven, to be exposed to activities other than sports and bike riding and likes the idea that Saturday’s activities for kids are offered in a group setting.
Some kids are more coordinated than others, she said, but in a group “it doesn’t really matter.”
She said she also likes that kids will get tips on stretching.
“I think that will definitely help with sports,” she said. “They make them run, but nobody really tells them you need to stretch.”