Healthy Kids Day at the YMCA

On Saturday, May 4, from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard will celebrate its annual Healthy Kids Day — a national initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids all over the country. Play, compete, dress up, and learn through a number of YMCA activities, both old and new.

This year’s theme is “Awaken Summer Imagination!” The logo has been printed on 200 cotton T shirts that will be given out on Saturday. Attendees can dye their own T shirts at the Tie-Dye station. A word of caution: The dye does not wash off clothing, so dress accordingly and be careful.

Along with tie-dye, there will be glitter tattoos and face painting provided by at least two artists. Asil Cash’s obstacle course is back by popular demand. Cash is the Y’s director of health and wellness, and each year he creates a new course consisting of eight to 10 obstacles that introduce activity and fitness in a safe and creative environment for kids ages 4 to 12. At the end of the course, there’s a surprise splash into a ball pit, where kids can hang out after the rigors of the obstacle course.

According to Y membership coordinator Lindsey Webster, another new addition is a donation of 20,000 Legos. “Kids can build what they want and take their creations home to keep,” Webster said.

Boats and trucks will also be on the scene. The Oak Bluffs Fire Department is bringing their coveted “Touch-A-Truck” activity to this year’s Healthy Kids Day. A working fire truck manned by local firefighters will talk about fires, how to prevent them, and how they can be extinguished. “La France,” an antique Oak Bluffs fire truck, will once again be on display.

Coast Guard officers in uniform will present a “Touch-A-Boat” activity, using a lifesaving vessel from Menemsha. Island Spirit Kayak will be there to present paddleboarding demonstrations and techniques.

Healthy eating will be another focus this Saturday. New YMCA chef Albert Lattanzi and Island Grown Initiative (IGI) nutritionist Gabrielle Sullo will talk about healthy eating, and the Y Cafe will feature smoothies, a grain table, and watermelon slices.

Sullo will present a “Sugary Sport Drink Alternatives” table, focusing on food and drinks for healthy teeth. “We will have a healthy homemade electrolyte drink to taste, along with the recipe for parents to take home,” Sullo said. She will also touch on facts about added sugar, visuals of sugar content, and how to read labels. Sullo creates the “Harvest of the Month” recipes for IGI, and prepares tastings for the schools every month. She also leads healthy afterschool cooking clubs and community cooking and nutrition workshops.

Dental health will be highlighted by representatives from Martha’s Vineyard Community Services with a table called “Tooth Care Craft.” Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Dental Center hygienist Mary McDonough will give out toothbrushes along with tooth care advice.

No good kids’ day is fully complete without a few furry friends. The FARM Institute is expected to bring over just-born-this-spring baby animals — goats, sheep, and whoever else they can round up.

Last but not least, the Lawn Library: This outdoor activity will allow kids and their parents to relax with borrowed books on a blanket, to unwind after an afternoon of activity.

For more information on YMCA Healthy Kids Day, visit

This article by Anne Sylvester originally appeared on