By Arriana Patraw, Community Health Improvement Coordinator
The benefits of physical activity and play for young children — especially infants, toddlers and kids under age 5 — are well chronicled. It’s good for physical and emotional development, builds confidence and, when done in group settings, fosters socialization with other children.
One big challenge for families in the North Country is finding simple and free or low-cost opportunities for physical activity when the weather turns cold. Building snow forts, skiing and snowshoeing, and other outdoor activities are great ways to encourage play, but some winter activities cost money and can be difficult for families on tight incomes — and frankly, some days it’s just too cold for small children to play safely outside.
Each winter, The Heart Network’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities (CHSC) program highlights easy ways for parents to keep their young ones moving. The goal of CHSC is to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. It also includes an early childhood component through a partnership with the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, engaging with providers to adopt policies and practices that promote nutrition and physical activity for young children. Here’s some of our favorite activities:
- Indoor snowball fights using crinkled up paper, which is safer and can be reused
- Indoor obstacle courses
- Dance parties
- The floor is lava
- Keep the balloon in the air
- Indoor bowling, using empty water bottles or paper towel rolls as pins and a soft ball as the bowling ball
For parents looking to socialize with other families, or those looking for more structured environments that also offer peer-to-peer support and other resources, we strongly encourage you to learn more about the great work being done by our partners at the Child Care Coordinating Council: ccccnc.org. Programs are inclusive and accessible for all families, and can be found in Plattsburgh, Malone and Tupper Lake.