The sign posted at Riverside Park late Saturday morning said it all: “Turn off all digital devices.”
Hundreds of children turned out for the third annual “Kids Outdoor Healthy Expo: Unplugged,” an event designed to get the county’s children off the couch and outdoors to play, according to one of the event’s organizers, Bradley Key of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation.
“The goal of today is to hold an ‘unplugged’ outdoor event that gets kids interested in a healthy lifestyle and being outdoors,” he said. “It’s to encourage children to get up off the couch, turn off the video games and get outside and play.”
The event offered something for every interest, including disc golf, martial arts demonstrations, a health walk, climbing wall and bicycle rodeo. Inflatables were a favorite with the younger set, while older kids tested their mettle on the climbing wall.
Representatives from the North Carolina Wildlife Commission were on hand, passing out fishing rods to kids, who baited them and promptly put hooks in the water of the Ararat River.
Examples of healthy meals and a gardening display showed the 250 to 300 children that healthy food can be delicious, while representatives from the Mount Airy Police Department were on hand to give children bicycle helmets and show them how to safely ride.
In an effort to get children interested in living healthy and staying away from alcohol and drugs, officers also had goggles that mimic the effects of alcohol on driving.
“We’re trying to teach them while they’re young,” Officer Ray Arnder said with a smile as he fitted a helmet on a 4-year-old.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.