Shown are, front row, from left to right, Paula Collier-program coordinator, Michelle Lisotto-YMCA board member, Bryce Thomas-managing director of Northwestern, Kym Gibson-program coordinator, Tripp McCallie-YMCA director of Development, Suzanne Bidek, Melissa Snyder; back row, Donna Killingsworth, Heather Baumunk, Katie Boutwell, Christine Wilcher, Amy Shuff, Will Jeffrey, Tyler Spry, Anthony Bussey, Zack Rice, HL Hackney, David Clark, Ben Francis, Eric Straussberger, Travis Poole, John Sterner, David Hopkins, Sepi Kadivar.
Support from Northwestern Mutual to the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga will make it possible for the Y to launch Play Every Day Outdoors in Chattanooga. Play Every Day Outdoors is a national program designed to increase family time, reintroduce children and families to play and encourage children and families to spend time outdoors.
Through Play Every Day Outdoors, the Metro YMCA will collaborate with local families – both adults and children – to develop and implement an ongoing, outdoor-based, community play program that specifically meets the needs of Chattanooga. The program is free to the public.
The YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga is one of four Ys to receive a grant for $12,000 from the Northwestern Mutual Foundation to develop and implement Play Every Day Outdoors.
“Healthy lifestyles are heavily influenced by family and community culture, and the Y believes that collaborating directly with the community to help build a more positive and supportive place to live can have a profound impact on the choices people make to improve their lives,” said Bill Rush, executive director for the North River YMCA. “Play Every Day Outdoors will offer local families access to opportunities that will inspire them to get together, have fun and play outdoors.”
There is no set “formula” for a Play Every Day Outdoors program, Mr. Rush said. “Each community creates a program that will work best for them."
Representatives from Chattanooga’s Northwestern Mutual office said they were happy to be able to make an impact in the community. “The Play Every Day Outdoors program makes it easy and entertaining for kids to get outside, get active and live healthier,” said Bryce Thomas, managing director for Northwestern Mutual in Chattanooga. “We know how crucial it is to teach kids good habits early on, and if we can persuade them to eat healthier and get active, we’ll lay the groundwork for healthier generations in the long-term.”
Paula Collier and Kym Gibson with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga are responsible for coordinating these efforts. In the Cromwell Hills community, plans include a bike drive, bike safety, connecting to local green ways and engaging families to make outdoor time a daily part of their lives. In the Emma Wheeler community, families created family neighborhood block parties for their outdoor time. The parents identified the need for access to pools, better playgrounds and walking trails.
Calling all unused bikes. The Chattanooga community is being asked to help by donating old bikes and helmets during the Play Every Day Outdoors Bike Drive. The bike drive began on June 18 and will continue through June 29. Donated bikes and helmets can be dropped off at your local YMCA.
According to research, an estimated 80 percent of Americans live in cities and suburbs and are faced with issues such as unplanned urban sprawl and a decrease in physical education and recess in schools. Having an awareness of, and access to, safe, outdoor environments can help them find balance in their lives.
Play Every Day Outdoors is aligned with the YMCA’s Healthy Family Home, a free resource of helpful information, tips and tools to support parents and children as they jumpstart healthy family habits based on the five pillars: Eat Healthy, Play Every Day, Get Together, Go Outside and Sleep Well.
Play Every Day Outdoors will be open to all families in the community. For more information, please visit www.ymcachattanooga.org or call 423 877-3517.