Elijah takes part in Kindergarten Tree Climbing for the WinterKids Winter Games at the Bowdoinham Community School, as Leah and Kenzie look on. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Gagnon)

BOWDOINHAM — Bowdoinham Community School is taking Part in the Winter Kids Winter games. The month-long competition encourages outdoor physical activity and nutrition. As part of week three, the schools are encouraged to involve family members. The school teamed up with Bowdoinham’s recreation department to host a family and community day of winter fun Sunday.

“This week is about getting family and the community involved,” said Principal Chris Lajoie. “Bowdoinham is the type of place that usually if an idea is floated out there, someone will take it and run with it.”

The Bowdoinham elementary school makes year-round efforts to get students outside. Lajoie said the past two years the school has developed an outdoor classroom for kindergarten classes to use at least once a week. In the spring, students helped decorate the town’s new nearby skate park. The activity has also been offered as an extracurricular at the school.

This is the second year Winter Kids has held a Winter Games contest. The nonprofit aims to promote healthy habits during a season where it can be easy to become sedentary.

Numbers in Maine for childhood obesity compare well to national averages. A 2016 survey compiled by the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health found nationally about 15 percent of kids ages 10-17 were overweight, with an additional 16 percent considered obese. In Maine, the numbers were lower than those averages with 14.3 percent considered overweight and 13.9 percent obese.

The Winter Kids program aims to teach habits that will extend beyond childhood. Maine was on par with the national average with 20.6 percent of adults meeting Centers for Disease Control guidelines, getting the recommended amount of weekly aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise. Most recent CDC numbers also show Maine having 29.1 percent self-reported obesity in adults.

Bowdoinham Community School has tapped into local resources during participation in the program. Students listened to a speaker from the local agriculture community and received a lesson in making fruit kabobs at lunch. Students track their progress and were expected to take part in five healthy eating activities during the week. This week, families are encouraged to get involved, which will culminate with the community day Sunday.

“It just seemed like a very Bowdoinham thing to do,” said Lajoie. “It’s not just about nutrition and eating healthy but there’s plenty of activities to do during the winter months.”

Students got outside for a tree-climbing activity for the first week of the contest. The Winter Games contest took one school from each county in last year. According to the organization, expanding the contest to two schools from each county will get 7,835 students and 770 teachers in the state involved. West Bath joins the Bowdoinham elementary school as Sagadahoc county representatives. Schools can win grants for finishing in the top three or other winter equipment prizes.

Sunday’s Family and Community Winter Day of Fun includes learning to skate from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. After the skating, activities continue until 3 p.m., with sledding cornhole, snowshoeing and a cross-country ski demo.

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