Kids’ clubs, such as those run by YMCAs across North America, have been shown to have numerous benefits for young people, from physical fitness to stronger relationships, better developed social skills, and good psychological health. The key is to make these clubs fun, appealing, and healthy on a year-round basis. One way to do this is to make use of a venue with an enclosed swimming pool, enabling access to swimming and other aquatic activities throughout the year.
Studies have shown that kids’ clubs have one particular benefit that stands out above the obvious ones relating to social skills and health. A study conducted by the Ohio State University found that these clubs help children to develop a stronger sense of self. This goes a long way towards building character, keeping children out of trouble, and aiding their development into well-adjusted adults. Children don’t need to attend the club every day to enjoy this benefit either. So long as they attend regularly throughout the year, they can reap the rewards.
Youth clubs probably have to work harder than ever to draw children in. Kids have access to electronic distractions that can make it unnecessary or undesirable to step out of the house. The trick is to find something that will inspire them to put down their tablets or step away from the laptop or TV for just an hour here or there. Charismatic group leaders who can form a strong rapport with the children, while innovating with the available activities, is probably the biggest key to this.
Another strong aid would be the quality and availability of facilities. Youth groups run by YMCAs often base their activities around central facilities such as sports fields or swimming pools. The latter, in particular, can be a source of great fun and multiple benefits for children and should, therefore, be available all year round. With enclosed pools, kids know that they can enjoy their time in the water regardless of what time of year it is, and this, together with a rigorous, varied, and fun aquatic activity program, will go a long way towards maintaining and promoting attendance, keeping children not only entertained but also fit throughout the winter months, when they might otherwise be tempted to stay indoors.
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