ONTARIO -- With schools and sports leagues cancelled for the next few weeks, health educators are encouraging healthy children to continue being physically active at home and outdoors.
"One of the great things about Richland County is the variety of resources we have to stay active and healthy," said Reed Richmond, health education and communications specialist for Richland Public Health.
For families who want to get outside, Richmond recommended sites like the B&O Bike Trail, Gorman Nature Center, Malabar Farm State Park, Kingwood Center and the various city and village parks in Richland County.
"If you can't get to these places, get outside in your backyard or walk around your neighborhood," he said. "Take your dog for a walk. Don't feel like you have to be trapped inside, just remember social distancing."
For cold and rainy days, kids and parents can find plenty of fitness resources online.
Emily Seymour, who teaches a weekly kids crossfit class at Reboot Fitness Lex, will be posting free workout videos for kids on the gym's Facebook page.
Seymour decided to create the videos after making the difficult decision to suspend the kids crossfit class. She hopes it will give children an outlet to relieve their stress and adjust to the changes in their routine.
"It's really important for kids to stay in a routine," she said. "I see everyday what happens when kids are out of their routine, I think as normal as we can keep their lives the better.
"When they go to school, they have gym class and a lot of these kids are really going to miss that."
Seymour plans to release three workout videos per week. The videos will be between 20 and 30 minutes in length and consist of exercises that don't require special equipment.
Ontario Youth Sports will be hosting its virtual "Home Olympics," where daily challenges are posted on the group Facebook page. Participants can even win weekly prizes.
"With everything that's going on, we were asking, 'How can we change the conversation?' " said Spencer, the program director. "'How can we get them distracted, keep them active?' "
For the next three weeks, OYS will post two challenges on its Facebook page each day. The first will be a feat of strength -- a certain number of jumping jacks or sit ups, for example. The second will be a bonus event. These events are meant to be silly and could include blowing a bubble or building a blanket fort.
Children residing in Ontario and/or attending Ontario Local Schools are eligible for the contests. Daily games will be posted on the group's Facebook page at 11 a.m.
Every child who completes all the week's challenges will be entered in a drawing on Saturday for gold, silver and bronze prizes. Parents must send an email verifying that their child completed all the physical challenges. They must also send photos of their child completing each bonus challenge. The OYS board will choose the top 5 photos to be posted on Facebook and voted on, with the winner of each day's photo contest getting an additional entry in the prize drawing.
Spencer said that due to the support of community sponsors, the organization has nearly $1,000 in prizes.
"We're getting some very positive feedback from parents saying 'Thank you for giving our kids something to do,'" Spencer said.