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CELINA — For more than two decades, the area’s YMCA has opened its doors to celebrate families.
“This is probably our 26th year,” Auglaize-Mercer Family YMCA CEO Allen Baskett said of Saturday’s Healthy Kids Day event. “We’ve been doing this since we opened.”
The event, Baskett noted, is a national event held at YMCAs all over the country.
“Today is National YMCA Healthy Kids Day,” he said. “YMCAs across the country are having events like this in their own communities.”
Saturday’s program included organizations from all over Auglaize and Mercer counties: Grand Lake Health System, Mercer Health, Celina Chiropractic Care, Professional Family Care Center, Agape Ministries, Mercer County Library, Our Home, Family Crisis Center, Help Me Grow, Mercer County WIC, New Bremen Learning Center, Celina IC preschool, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, St. Marys Community Public Library, Arts Place, Celina Parks and Recreation, Mercer County Red Cross, Victoria’s Closet and Mercer County Dads.
“We’ve invited local agencies in Auglaize and Mercer counties to set up booths and share information about the services they provide,” Baskett said. “They can come and just share information with families about what’s available in Auglaize and Mercer counties.”
Saturday’s event also featured a variety of activities: Hit the pins, soccer kick, hockey pit, disc drop, sucker tree, kiddie pillar, moon bounce, kiddie land, candy walk, washer toss, bean bag bucket challenge, duck pond, quarterback challenge, obstacle course, COSI on Wheels and door prizes.
“We also have a lot of fun activities for the kids, like face painting and COSI on Wheels,” Baskett said. “This is the first time we’ve had COSI on Wheels here.”
There were also a variety of law enforcement and safety vehicles parked out front of the YMCA.
“We have the fire departments, county sheriffs,” Baskett said. “We get great support from the community, and we have for all the 26 or 27 years we’ve been doing this.”
Family Kids Day had a variety of local sponsors, Baskett noted.
“Two of our major sponsors are Grand Lake Health System and Mercer Health,” he said. “Not only have they provided financial support for the program, but they’ve also brought their own people to set up booths to help people learn about living healthier. They also are hosting hearing screenings and eye tests.”
A variety of door prizes were also set to be given away on Saturday, including bicycles, kids’ games and safety equipment such as bicycle helmets and knee pads.
“Wal-Mart also donated a ton of door prizes — there is a table full of them,” Baskett said. “And Dannon Yogurt also gave us a bunch of samples to give away.”
He complimented the sponsors for their help.
“We could not do this event without our sponsors,” Baskett said. “K-94 was our media sponsor, and from 8 to 10, they did a live broadcast here. They’ve pretty much been with us since we started.”
Healthy Kids Day is also an opportunity for the YMCA to hold an open house.
“Healthy Kids Day is open to the public, and it’s for kids and families,” Baskett said, noting they encourage both children and an accompanying adult to attend the event together. “It’s not a drop off your kids and pick them up later thing. It’s a family event, and we invite families to participate. It’s good information families can pick up while they’re here.”
The center, he added, would be free to the public for the rest of Saturday after the event, which went until 1 p.m.
“We will remain open throughout the day and won’t charge,” Baskett said. “It gives families a chance to come out and play. Especially on a day like today when the weather is lousy, this is a great place to be.”
Despite the cold and rainy weather on Saturday, the YMCA saw a bevy of visitors.
“The parking lot has been packed,” Baskett said. “Usually 600 to 800 kids come through. Add in their parents, and at least 1,000 people are coming here to be a part of the program.”