Kids invited to come ‘play’ on Saturday

Published 8:07 am Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Saturday, kids in every state across the United States and in 10 countries will participate in a Worldwide Day of Play.

First Lady Michelle Obama will join Nickelodeon in celebrating the network’s seventh annual Worldwide Day of Play by sharing a special message encouraging kids and families to turn off their televisions and computers and “get out and play,” especially outdoors.

But, even with the First Lady’s encouragement and Nickelodeon’s dark period from noon until 3 p.m., getting kids off the couch might be a tall order, said Pamela Neeley, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties in Troy.

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“Kids today would rather sit in front of a computer, play video games or talk on the phone than go outside and play,” Neeley said. “Kids don’t know how to play anymore unless it’s an organized sport. And, that’s what the Worldwide Day of Play is all about – getting kids up and playing.”

On Saturday, more than 3,000 local events are scheduled worldwide and the Boys and Girls Club in Troy has joined the effort to get kids to “Go play.”

From noon until 2 p.m. Saturday, all kids ages six to 16 are invited to “get up, get active and go play” at the Boys and Girls Clubs at the Family Life Center on Highway 29 north in Troy.

“This will be a time of fun and games and it will be different from the structured after school program that we normally have,” Neeley said. “We will have several activities and games for the kids to participate in and some of them will be different from anything they have done before. We are considering playing some of the games that children used to play.”

Neeley said that games like today’s grandparents and great grandparents played would be considered “lame” the standards of today’s kids.

Drop the handkerchief and Farmer in the Dell just wouldn’t get it but there are games that even today’s kids will find challenging and fun. And, Saturday will tell.

“We’re not going to have kids sitting in the bleachers talking,” Neeley said. “We’re going to all be up and active and having fun playing.”

The Worldwide Day of Play event officially began all Nickelodeon channels on Oct. 2, 2004. Nickelodeon suspended programming for three hours. During that time, there was no programming and a special message appeared on the screen.

The message that appeared on Sept. 29, 2007 included “Get off the couch, get up from the floor and definitely quit slouching in your bed. You should be celebrating! Ride a bike, do a dance, kick a ball, skate a board, jump a rope, swing a swing, climb a rope, run a race, do anything that gets you up and playing!’

And, that’s exactly what Neeley said she hopes will happen on Saturday.

“We encourage all boys and girls to come play at the Boys and Girls Club from noon until 2 o’clock on Saturday,” she said. “They might be surprised at how much fun ‘playing’ can be.”