GVHP program proves it's hip to be active
WEB EXCLUSIVE — Livingston County kids know summer vacation is the time to get up, get outside and get moving. Over, 1,280 children from ten recreation programs throughout the county participated in the fourth annual Hip Hop-ping across Livingston County event on July 7.
The Genesee Valley Health Partnership coordinated the event with assistance from the Livingston County Youth Bureau, Department of Health, Noyes Hospital and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Hip Hop stands for Healthy Input and Healthy Output. Examples of healthy input include eating well; five servings a day of fruits and vegetables and examples of healthy output are incorporating at least one hour of exercise into your day and limiting sedentary activities such as television, computer time, phone time and video games to less than two hours a day.
Recreation programs selected a variety of moving activities for the children to participate in for that hour that included tennis, jump roping, walking, calisthenics, and a nature hunt. In Springwater, children in the recreation program participated in an activity called the amazing race through town where kids made stops at local businesses along the way.
The Livingston County Health Department, through a Greater Rochester Health Foundation grant, donated 1,000 mini soccer balls to the Hip Hop program for the children who took part in the fun. The children were encouraged to find innovative ways to use the balls for moving activities. In previous years, the participants received jump ropes, hacky sacks and frisbees courtesy of Noyes Healthy Heart grant funds. All of the efforts are intended to help young people learn ways to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines for a lifetime.
“We had the most participants ever this year and they showed so many creative ways to get moving. The kids learned that you can do these activities anytime – go for a walk around town with a friend, head out on a nature trail, jump rope or just run around play. It doesn’t need to be organized, just get moving,” said Jean Angililli, wellness coordinator for the Genesee Valley Health Partnership.
Community recreation programs provide a variety of activities that promote health and wellness. The Livingston County Youth Bureau receives funding from the NYS Office of Children and Family Services and in turn, provides local municipalities with funds using a formula based on each town’s population. State funding was cut eight percent last year and an additional 10 percent this year resulting in some programs having to implement a charge for things like swim lessons or field trips, reduce the variety of offerings or increase their local budgets.
Nita Hawkins, coordinator at the youth bureau, says local not for profits, municipal and county youth programs work cooperatively to identify and stretch funding for various youth programs throughout the year, but especially for summer recreation. The Hip Hop program is a good example of this cooperation. Hawkins initiated the idea for a county-wide physical activity for children enrolled in recreation programs.
She cooperated with Angililli of the GVHP who provides year round programming in children’s fitness. Together they secured funding from the Livingston County Health Department who supplied the donated balls to each child participating. Other examples of agency cooperation include the county recreation field days, bike rodeos, local law enforcement safety visits to recreation programs and more. The youth bureau also provides summer youth employment workers and training to recreation counselors.
Summer recreation programs are an important component of a healthy community. They provide a safe, structured environment for kids to play and include arts, crafts, field games, team sports and special guests like magicians and story tellers. Programs generally include some field trips such as to the zoo, local fun centers and baseball games.
“Recreation programs provide opportunities for socialization, personal growth, physical activity and character building, which reduces risk factors as children move through development stages and provides protection from outside forces such as drugs and alcohol,” Hawkins commented.