WIN­TER PLAY­ING FIELD

The Boyertown Area Times - - COMMUNITY - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @MichileaP on Twit­ter

This week, the re­gion got some long-awaited snow­fall — see­ing as the white flakes have been prac­ti­cally nonex­is­tent this sea­son. The snow and the up­com­ing Valen­tine’s love hol­i­day is the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for fam­i­lies to get out­doors, en­joy na­ture and bond­ing time. Fam­i­lies can warm both their bod­ies and their con­nec­tion to one an­other through win­ter­time phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Some of my best ad­ven­tures as a kid hap­pened while I was sled­ding and to­bog­gan­ing on our side hill or skat­ing on the town pond. Along with the perks of fresh air and sun­shine, ex­er­cis­ing and mak­ing mem­o­ries, there are great ben­e­fits to win­ter out­door play such as beat­ing cabin fever and the gen­eral blues,” said Kirsten Fre­itag Mur­ray, di­rec­tor of de­vel­op­ment and pub­lic re­la­tions at Creative Health Ser­vices in Pottstown.

Creative Health Ser­vices pro­vides be­hav­ioral health­care and pro­motes wellness within fam­i­lies. Mur­ray be­gan her ca­reer as a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion teacher and has an early child­hood de­vel­op­ment de­gree. She said play, in­clud­ing win­ter­time play, is a very im­por­tant part of a child’s de­vel­op­ment be­cause it helps them to learn about their world. Mur­ray said the ben­e­fits of play be­gin at in­fancy and con­tinue through­out adult­hood.

“Con­nec­tion to our world and oth­ers through play and leisure ac­tiv­i­ties is a build­ing block for healthy de­vel­op­ment across the life­span,” she said.

Mur­ray said con­nec­tion and be­long­ing is also a very im­por­tant part of a child’s de­vel­op­ment. Mur­ray is on the steer­ing com­mit­tee of the Pottstown Trauma In­formed Com­mu­nity Con­nec­tion. The or­ga­ni­za­tion brings aware­ness about dif­fi­cult child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences and how things such as con­nec­tion can help kids over­come those ob­sta­cles.

“Pos­i­tive phys­i­cal, emo­tional and in­tel­lec­tual con­tact and con­nec­tion with oth­ers al­lows kids to grow into strong, car­ing and ca­pa­ble in­di­vid­u­als. This is es­pe­cially true of the con­nec­tion be­tween par­ents and chil­dren. Par­ents are first re­spon­ders; mod­els and safe havens as kids ex­plore and nav­i­gate the world,” Mur­ray said.

Three gen­er­a­tions of a fam­ily got some se­ri­ous bond­ing time when they com­peted in a snow­shoe race to­gether. Ed Duba along with his son Jo­han and his grand­daugh­ter Sum­mer, 13, strapped on spe­cial­ized footwear and ran through snow at Spring Moun­tain Ski Area in Up­per Sal­ford. The fam­ily also en­joys other win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties with one an­other such as ski­ing.

Jo­han said it’s nice be­ing out­doors to­gether as a fam­ily. His mother, Suzanne, said get­ting out­doors make the win­ter­time fun in­stead of some­thing to dread.

“So many peo­ple don’t like win­ter but when you have things to do, you like win­ter,” she said.

David Au­gus­tine, of Doylestown, took his 12-year-old son to Spring Moun­tain so that he could take snow­board­ing lessons. The duo was there as part of the Cen­tral Bucks Fam­ily YMCA Ad­ven­ture Guides. Au­gus­tine said par­ents brought their child to the event to ski, snow­board and to do tub­ing. Au­gus­tine is an avid skier and said grow­ing up in the Po­conos en­cour­aged him to en­joy out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. His sons are also into sports and very ac­tive out­side, he said.

“It’s great for me be­cause I get an op­por­tu­nity to spend a lot of qual­ity time with the two boys,” Au­gus­tine said adding that it also gets them away from the TV and elec­tron­ics.

Mur­ray said lately screen time has pre­vented kids from get­ting the proper amount of play time. She said this is why it’s im­por­tant for par­ents to en­cour­age other ac­tiv­i­ties such as ice skat­ing or hik­ing.

“We need to con­tinue to play through­out our lives. It’s healthy for us to dis­con­nect from work and wor­ries to stretch our minds and bod­ies to achieve both fa­mil­iar and new chal­lenges,” Mur­ray said.

Me­gan O’Con­nor over­seas the Hat­boro YMCA Ad­ven­ture Guides. The YMCA has an ac­tive father-daugh­ter pro­gram for chil­dren ages five to 14.

“Ba­si­cally it is a bond­ing time for fa­thers and chil­dren us­ing na­ture,” O’Con­ner said.

Pro­gram par­tic­i­pants go fish­ing, camp­ing and do other ad­ven­tur­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. This up­com­ing week­end, the group is go­ing to a YMCA camp. O’Con­ner said her hus­band and daugh­ter are part of the Ad­ven­ture Guides. She said they are very ex­cited about the camp­ing trip es­pe­cially since there’s now snow and the camp area has a sled­ding hill.

O’Con­ner said the Ad­ven­ture Guides is a great way for her hus­band and daugh­ter to bond and en­joy na­ture at the same time.

Mur­ray said fam­ily to­geth­er­ness is a time to ex­press love for one an­other and have fun.

“The ben­e­fits of fam­ily bond­ing time go back to our built-in need for con­tact and

“Get your snow gear on and have a blast! There’s al­ways the prom­ise of hot co­coa at the end of your ad­ven­ture!”

be­long­ing. We need to be in­ten­tional about main­tain­ing a strong con­nec­tion to our fam­ily unit as a whole and with each in­di­vid­ual mem­ber of that group,” she said.

Mur­ray said out­door win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties are a great way for par­ents to con­nect with chil­dren and have that fam­ily bond­ing time. She said this kind of play will help chal­lenge kids phys­i­cally and cog­ni­tively.

“Learn­ing how to pack snow tightly to build things, to steer a sled or to avoid slip­pery and un­safe ob­jects are lessons that can only be learned out­side in the win­ter,” she said.

Mur­ray said she de­vel­oped a love for the out­doors at a young age and now shares this love with her own chil­dren.

“What­ever the age of my kids, we would bun­dle up in the cold months to take a walk, cre­ate an igloo, build snow­men and jump off of snow drifts. Get your snow gear on and have a blast! There’s al­ways the prom­ise of hot co­coa at the end of your ad­ven­ture!” she said. For more about cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing vi­tal bonds in­clud­ing those be­tween par­ents and chil­dren, con­tact Creative Health Ser­vices by call­ing 484-941-0500 or vis­it­ing the web­site at info@ cre­ativehs.org.

For more healthy liv­ing sto­ries in­clud­ing recipes, visit the Fit for Life web­site at www.pottsmer­c­fit4life. com.

MICHILEA PAT­TER­SON — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

A young girl waves and smiles as she takes snow­board­ing lessons at Spring Moun­tain Ski Area in Up­per Sal­ford.

Kids ski at Spring Moun­tain Ski Area in Up­per Sal­ford. Win­ter out­door ac­tiv­i­ties help chil­dren de­velop phys­i­cally and cog­ni­tively.

A man uses a hula hoop to help a young girl learn how to snow­board at Spring Moun­tain Ski Area in Up­per Sal­ford.

Chil­dren learn to ski and snow­board at Spring Moun­tain Ski Area in Up­per Sal­ford.

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