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In Southern Idaho, Kids Stay Healthy Through Fun

Programs focus on physical and emotional health and wellness in Twin Falls and the Southern Idaho region.

By Kim Madlom on December 13, 2022

Boys & Girls Club of Magic Valley in Southern Idaho.
BGCMV staff

Everywhere you look, Southern Idaho is a visual invitation to enjoy the outdoors, and some innovative local programs are making that invitation even more irresistible.

Health care providers and nonprofits are joining together on initiatives to help residents stay fit and have fun. A community garden, bike skills park, summer youth events and confidence-building programs are all part of a focused effort to promote health and wellness in Twin Falls and throughout the region.

With campuses in Twin Falls, Buhl and Rupert, the Boys & Girls Club of Magic Valley prioritizes physical education through programs like Club U and the K-Netic Summer Program, which helps kids develop a healthy relationship with physical education early on.

“The kids can experience the activities Southern Idaho offers, including kayaking, skiing, biking, hiking and swimming. For some of the kids we serve, these are new opportunities.”

Lindsey Westburg, executive director at the Boys & Girls Club of Magic Valley

Staying Healthy in Southern Idaho

“Health and wellness are essential to what we do with our kids,” says Lindsey Westburg, executive director. “We focus on three components across our programs – mind, body and soul. We promote healthy minds and bodies by encouraging 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day. We help children develop healthy habits, from learning more about what they put into their bodies to grocery shopping, budgeting and cooking. We start at age 5 with many of our programs and try to build those healthy habits to last a lifetime.”

Club U is a daily after-school program for K-12 youth and includes activities in the areas of sports, fitness and recreation, health and life skills, and more.

The K-Netic program, for ages 5 and 6, reinforces self-regulation qualities through sensory-based play and open-ended projects. Eighty-six summer camps cover everything from sports and fitness to theater to sewing – all focused on developing mind, body and soul.

Westburg says the scenic assets of the region are built into the programs. “During those summer camps, we have field trips happening every single day,” she says.

Photo illustrates wellness in Southern Idaho.

Gardens Promote Health in Southern Idaho

Children also learn gardening skills at the summer camps, and a community garden program is a new initiative of the nonprofit Because Kids Grieve in Twin Falls – thanks to a Community Transformation Grant awarded by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health.

Because Kids Grieve is a support organization that helps children, teens and their families grieve after the death of a loved one. The organization hosts activities to help foster a sense of community to help children heal.

The grant award blended the organization’s goal of creating a memorial garden to support grieving children’s mental and emotional health with the Blue Cross goal of increasing access to healthy food in the community and encouraging physical activity.

Girls on the Run in Southern Idaho
Girls on the Run Southern Idaho

Grants Power Activities

A St. Luke’s Community Health Improvement Fund grant went to nonprofits like Girls on the Run Southern Idaho, which inspires young girls to be healthy and confident and operates out of various counties across the region. Also, a Blue Cross grant helped to fund a mountain bike skills park at Auger Falls designed to encourage kids to venture outside away from their screens.

The University of Idaho Extension supported the project by designing the memorial garden that allows children to plant trees and flowering plants in memory of their loved ones in designated areas that weave a path marked by each stage of grief.

The program includes fun activities to help grieving children understand they can still play, laugh and have fun even after a loss. Because Kids Grieve is free to participants thanks to volunteers, community and corporate support and grant funding.

“Our focus is on the mental and emotional health of grieving children,” says Michael Seward, president of the nonprofit. “We provide activities and the opportunity for grieving children to interact with one another. We help facilitate getting children together who are experiencing the same kind of loss so they can talk and express their feelings with each other. Grief can be very isolating, and it can be healing to interact with others going through it.”

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