WALLINGFORD — The winter months can make it more difficult for children to participate in regular physical activity outside of school. But, staying indoors doesn’t have to mean being sedentary.
Many local organizations, such as the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club of Wallingford, provide children with the opportunity to stay physically active throughout the winter.
I met with Mike Cotela Jr., unit director of the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club, and Jermaine Mitchell, site coordinator of Ulbrich’s North Haven location, to get some advice on how to keep children engaged with challenging activities during the winter.1. Considerations
Cotela Jr. said kids are generally separated by age during physical activities at the Boys & Girls Club.
This ensures that the games are fair, and children can play competitively with one another.
Cotela Jr. added that skill level, age, and gender are taken into account when programs are created.
Club staff give children who are more advanced a choice to move up an age bracket for specific programs.
They also provide opportunities for those who are still learning certain games to play with others who match their skill-level. 2. Dependable programs
Programs should be scheduled in advance, so that kids can look forward to them and prepare.
“That’s what gets the kids interested and engaged, is programs that have a set time that kids can count on,” said Cotela Jr.
Mitchell said the kids are eager to start their programs once they get off the bus from school.
“We’ll get them running around with a quick energizer,” said Mitchell of the daily routine. 3. Measurable outcomes
Activities with measurable outcomes allow children to gauge how well they are doing, and where they need to improve.
Kids like to see their results, “So they can understand that they are getting better,” said Cotela Jr.
Programs that track physical progress are designed to challenge the children to improve strategy, strength, and agility.
Measures don’t always have to be numeric. They can also be representative of how a child’s attitude has changed when posed with the prospect of winning or losing.4. Variety
Both Cotela Jr. and Mitchell emphasized the importance of offering new activities daily.
“We have games in the gym…from the time homework ends until the time we close the club,” said Cotela Jr.
Mitchell said that kids aren’t just doing schoolwork when they come to the club.
“They are actually in the gym, doing something that they like doing with a bunch of their friends,” Mitchell added.
Club staff give kids the opportunity to decide if they want to partake in organized activity with their peers or come up with their own games.5. Community involvement
Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club members are also given the chance to participate in physical activity outside of the club.
“We offer a basketball league for the town…We also partner with the Y to give our kids some swimming time during the winter as well,” said Cotela Jr.
For more information about the Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club visit: https://www.ulbrichbgc.org/.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris– https://dearfitkris.com/