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Sports Saturdays: Free Weekend Fun for Grade-School Kids

Weekly musings from Jeff Long, public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District.

Kids’ sports have taken on a different meaning these days. Not long ago, all the action took place at the park or the local gym; now it seems those venues have been replaced by the couch or “gaming chair.”

PlayStation, X-Box and Wii certainly have their place in terms of fun and entertainment. But rapid-fire button-pressing and joystick-shifting don’t quite equate with active sports, no matter what’s happening on the TV screen.

Fortunately, there are still plenty opportunities for kids to engage in physical exercise beyond a thumb workout. Thanks to the Fox Valley Park District and a lineup of six schools throughout Aurora and North Aurora, wintertime Saturdays can still be days of sports and camaraderie and athletic excitement.

Sports Saturdays are set to return next weekend for eight consecutive weeks. Each Saturday – from Jan. 12 through March 2 – the Park District will oversee a frenzy of fun at school gyms around the area. This popular program has been around for decades – all the way back to when the only video game available was “Pong.”

“Sports Saturdays provide an opportunity for kids to get out of the house and do what they love most – play!” said recreation supervisor Rafael Martinez, who oversees the program.  “They’ll get a chance to take part in a whole bunch of different sports and other fun stuff like crafts.

“It also gives parents a couple hours of free time, all the while knowing their kids are enjoying themselves in a safe and supervised setting.”

Speaking of free, that would apply to Sports Saturdays. All Park District resident children in grades 1 to 5 may partake in the program at no cost, with the morning hours (9 a.m. to noon) reserved for grades 1 to 2 and the afternoon (noon to 3 p.m.) for grades 3 to 5.

Sports Saturdays are run concurrently at six different elementary schools around the area – Bardwell, Hermes, Oak Park, Hall and McCleery in Aurora, along with Schneider in North Aurora. Resident children can participate in the activities at any school – they can even visit a different school each week.

Another great thing about Sports Saturdays – besides the fact that kids can have a blast with their peers – is that it provides the structure of team sports without the regimen; pickup games, if you will. Also, kids can register any time at any site during the eight weekends, but there are no attendance requirements or practice schedules.

But it’s definitely a step up from open gym. Park District instructors are on hand to teach the ins and outs of each sport, featuring organized teams and games that are supervised.  It’s a great opportunity – especially for those who may not play a sport in school – to enjoy the pure fun of playing sports while experiencing a little friendly competition.

Sports include baseball, basketball, floor hockey, soccer and other high-octane activities.

Times have changed, but the wide world of sports – whether down the street or across the globe – never loses its fun.

Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at jlong@fvpd.net

Fox Valley Park District
Upcoming Events

Thursday, Jan. 10: Super Couponing 2: Saving on Everything, Eola Community Center, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 11-13: Winter Stage Presents “Anything Goes,” Prisco Community Center, 7 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.
Saturday, Jan. 26: Wintertime Fun, Eola Community Center, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26: A-Factor Dance Company 5th Annual Winter Showcase, Prisco Community Center, 7 p.m.

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