Time To Turn Off The TV: Take The Time To Get Outside And Play!

If your child is an avid viewer of Nickelodeon television, don’t be surprised if your TV screen suddenly goes “dark” on Saturday, Oct. 6. For the ninth year now, Nickelodeon will celebrate its Worldwide Day of Play, foregoing its programming for a few hours and replacing it with a message to promote outdoor recreation. And this year, Wellington has joined in to participate. The village is partnering with the United States Tennis Association to bring the USTA Free Tennis Play Days to the Wellington Tennis Center, where children 10 or younger and their families can enjoy an afternoon of tennis, food and other activities from 1 to 4 p.m. While we definitely recommend you check out this event, it’s only one way to celebrate the Worldwide Day of Play and is only for a few hours. We suggest making the whole day an outdoor affair.

The Worldwide Day of Play page on Nick.com offers “100 fun ways to get active,” as recommended by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The list ranges from traditional team sports such as baseball, basketball, football and soccer to swimming, archery, badminton, bicycling and even jumping on a trampoline. Not only are these activities a good way to encourage physical exercise in children, but they also offer a good opportunity for parents to spend some quality time with them as well, whether it’s on the tennis court or playing catch in the back yard.

If your child isn’t a fan of team sports, there are plenty of activities he or she can do alone. So-called “action sports” have grown in prominence in recent years, with skateboarding and BMXing among the more popular. In addition to being good outdoor exercise, these types of sports also encourage individuality and creativity. Of course, proper safety precautions are necessary, especially for beginners, and they should never try advanced tricks they’re not ready for. Locally, there is a skate park at Wellington Village Park, and Okeeheelee Park has had a BMX course for many years.

Though most of these sports are of the high-energy variety, that is not necessarily the point; what’s important is that children get outside and do something that doesn’t involve a television or a computer screen. Some of the less strenuous activities recommended include fishing, gardening and golf. Even an indoor activity such as yoga is good because it makes good use of both mind and body.

Whatever activity a child engages in, the main purpose is to do something that is physical — and fun. And with the whole family involved, it’s a perfect day of recreation. For more information about the USTA Free Tennis Play Days, or 10 & Under Tennis, contact Debbie Ellsworth at ellsworth@florida.usta.com.