Sandy Club keeps kids physically engaged during the summer
A full gymnasium of kids playing tag is a frequent sight at the Sandy Club. (Billy Swartzfager/City Journals)
The Sandy Club is a place where children can go for all sorts of things. They learn everything there from mathematics to gardening, all levels of computer skills to how to express themselves through art. The new building is generally full of youth from all walks of life, interested in many activities. But one thing they are all required to participate in every day is physical activity.
Not all kids love sports, but all kids can be active. And all kids should be, according to the Sandy Club’s Executive Director Linda Saville. She schedules at least an hour each day just for physical fitness activities, believing it to be just as important as homework time.
“Physical fitness is so important — it just needs to be done every day, every day,” Saville said. “They do better in school and everywhere else when they are exercising.”
During the school year, the kids get active after their schoolwork is completed, spending time in a lot of structured leagues and competitions at the Club. The summertime is a bit different, though. There aren’t as many leagues in session and staff members like to get more creative when it comes to planning physical activities for youth to enjoy.
“We have Junior Jazz and soccer teams here during the school year, which are fun, but we really have a good time in the summer too,” Saville said.
One look at the monthly calendar shows just how diverse an experience the children have when they sign in to the program. One week they might participate in traditional fun and games like soccer and dodgeball, while also having an opportunity to learn and play sports like pickleball and four square that youth aren’t always familiar with.
Every summer, the program goes on a special day trip to Snowbird as a means to keep their bodies active. Many of the youth in the program come from circumstances that make getting away to the mountains difficult, so the trip ends up being a more than just a physical activity with fresh air; it is an opportunity to show kids how neat the world is just beyond their backyard.
The trip begins with a big breakfast and a ride up the canyon to Snowbird, where the kids and staff take the tram to the top of the mountain. Everyone hikes 3.2 miles back down to the parking lot. The kids are also joined by two arborists who spend the day teaching the kids all about the plants they encounter on their journey. By the end of the day everyone is wiped, so it is a good thing they spend so much time being active in preparation for the annual trek.
Saville has been taking the kids up the mountain every year for over 15 years. She looks forward to the event every summer and can do so through the generosity of other health-minded groups like IHC, the Sandy Rotary Club and Healthy Sandy Summit. This year the group will head up the canyon on Aug 15.
“I feel it’s so important to get these kids up to the mountains, some of them just don’t have the access,” Saville said. “It goes along with everything else we do, trying to keep the kids physically active.”