Every Kid Deserves Healthy Play

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by Perry Hendrix
Chair, The Peaks Society

I remember eagerly awaiting the arrival of summer when I was growing up. It signaled the end of school and weeks of being outside, playing pick-up basketball games and baseball, and days in the pool. We weren’t stuck behind a computer screen, playing video games or on the couch watching TV. Today, distractions are everywhere – from playing Candy Crush on a cell phone or watching The Big Bang Theory on a tablet.

These distractions lead to lack of exercise and rising childhood obesity rates – which are alarming. More than 32% of elementary and middle school students in Buncombe County are not at a healthy weight according to the Buncombe County Community Health Assessment. Even more startling, only one in 10 parents of these obese children actually see their child as very overweight; the remaining parents view the child as either a healthy weight or only slightly overweight.

We Want Kids in Buncombe County to be Healthy

This month, United Way’s Peaks Society will be at community events collecting new and gently used sports equipment that will be distributed to afterschool and summer programs, as well as families in need. All items collected will be used right here in Buncombe County.

This equipment will be especially useful during the summer months when kids need active, engaging recreation that promotes well-being and wholesome physical development. Physical activity allows children to explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence. Access to sports equipment and healthy activities introduce healthier choices in creative ways, give students outlets for achievement they might not realize in the classroom and have a lasting effect on health habits of the entire family.

As you clean out your garage or attic, please keep us in mind if you’ve got footballs, baseball bats, skates, bikes or other equipment. (A list of most-needed items is on our website.) We’ll be out in Buncombe County collecting the items at the locations listed below. You can also drop off items at the United Way Community Services Building anytime the offices are open. If you prefer to shop online and have the equipment sent to United Way, just visit our wish list on Amazon.

Direct Impact on Healthy Living

Difficult economic times have resulted in less-than-ideal circumstances for many families in our community striving for their children’s health and school readiness. We’ve partnered with two outstanding local nonprofits to make sure the items collected during the sports drive will have the most impact by being distributed to kids and families with limited resources.

Children First/Communities in Schools will use items for K-5th graders enrolled in afterschool learning centers and summer camps in the Pisgah View, Deaverview and Emma communities. CARING for Children will be use sports equipment at Cornerstone and Trinity Place residential living shelters. And we are appreciative of the help we are getting from Sports Director, Stan Pamfilis, Asheville WLOS. Stan is the Honorary Chair and helping United Way spread the word about the importance of physical activity and the great need for used sports equipment.

How You Can Help

  • Drop off new or gently used equipment at McCormick Field on May 27
  • Drop off equipment at our offices located on 50 South French Broad Avenue
  • Shop our wish list on Amazon
  • Or make a donation here

Perry Hendrix is Senior Vice President/Commercial Loan Division Manager at Asheville Savings Bank. He serves as Chair of The Peaks Society, one of United Way's Leadership Giving groups.

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