Play date

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A district comes together for a day devoted to outdoor fun.

By Danielle Castonzo

On October 6, hundreds of Key Club members from the California-Nevada-Hawaii District joined students of Abbott Elementary School in Lynwood, California, for Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play.

Members participated as part of the KIWIN’S Diamond Division Lieutenant Governor Project, led by Lt. Gov. Diana Mae Baliscao.

“I wanted to spread happiness to the kids in Lynwood that may not have the opportunity to just be a kid and go out and play,” Baliscao says. “I was so inspired by the leadership from the K-Kids at Abbott Elementary School that were very enthusiastic about the event. These young students are so ambitious and have such big dreams that they want to accomplish.”

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Nickelodeon hosted the first Worldwide Day of Play in 2004 to encourage active play and discourage spending all day in front of a television or device screen. The day reminds parents and children to get moving outside, and in support of this initiative, Nickelodeon networks go dark for three hours. As a result, thousands of events have been held across the country to help kids pursue healthy, active lifestyles while having fun in the fresh air.

“[This day] encourages children and families to move away from their television, cell phones and computer screens, which is a big problem with today’s youth,” says Alex Gaytan, the Key Club/KIWIN’S advisor at Downey High School in California. “I believe our efforts have inspired hundreds of kids at Abbott Elementary School to become more active, because we reintroduced them to how much fun it is to just get out and play.”

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To start the day, Key Club leaders placed kindergarten through 6th-grade students into teams of 10, with a Key Club member leading each team. The teams picked names and warmed up by doing the Baby Shark dance, the Chicken Dance and other fun moves. Throughout the day, teams rotated to different activities led by Key Club members, including hip-hop dance, arts and crafts, drama and theater, and face painting. They also participated in basketball, Four Square and other games.

“My favorite part of this event was seeing the Key Club/KIWIN’S being like big brothers and sisters to the elementary school children who participated in the day of play,” Gaytan says.

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Later in the day, teams competed against each other in a giant ball relay, a water balloon relay, three-legged races and other friendly competitions. During a picnic lunch, Key Club members led discussions centered around what the elementary students had learned about teamwork, exercise and the value of being active.

“It was heartwarming to see high schoolers encouraging and listening to elementary school kids and what they had to say,” says Gaytan. “One of the Abbott Elementary School K-Kids told me that he wished the event would never end, because he grew so attached to his team leader.”

“This event was more important than just getting kids to get off of their electronics,” Baliscao says, “but to inspire them to do great things in their life regardless of their age, to go after their dreams and to work hard.”

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