PASD, local organizations teaming to get kids more active with Screen-Free Week

PUNXSUTAWNEY — When it comes to television, cellphones, computers and other electronic devices, they appear to be a necessity that no one can live without. Not one single day goes by when someone isn't sitting in front of some sort of screen, whether its to watch a lineup of television shows or to spend hours surfing the web.

Family quality time barely exists, as the world of technology continues to pull loved ones in opposite directions.

It is for this reason that the Punxsutawney Area School District School Health Council is organizing a Screen-Free Week, which will begin on April 28 and run through May 4.

"We started this because we wanted to pull children away from TV and make them more active," said Kim Godo, PASD secretary.

Godo said that it started nationally in 1994 after concerns arose about the health, social and educational impact television viewing was having on young people.

According to National Statistics, by the time the average American child is 18, he or she will have witnessed 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence on television.

It also found that 90 percent of children say they feel scared or upset by what they see on television.

"Instead of relying on televisions, computers and iPads for entertainment, we encourage kids, for one week, to find other methods of entertainment," said Godo, adding that spring is a wonderful time to do this initiative.

Screen-Free Week will also give kids a chance to spend some quality time with family and friends outside.

Godo said that it doesn't matter how young or old you are, it just matters that you take the time to enjoy something different.

Some suggestions include: a family game night, cooking dinner together, a picnic outdoors, going to a playground, a bike ride on the Mahoning Trail, going to a sports event or just sitting down and having a conversation.

"We encourage these things to be done as a family," said Godo, adding that the council had sent some letters out to community members.

The following members gladly accepted and will be taking part in Screen-Free Week: Punxsutawney Memorial Library, Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce, Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Punxsutawney Community Center and Punxsutawney Historical and Genealogical Society.

Though the Rails-to-Trails Association won't be participating, it is making the trail available to whomever wants to use it.

"I'm really excited about the feedback I got from people willing to participate and do things as a community," said Godo.

Screen-Free Week Activities will be as follows:

• Monday, April 29

— "Grow a Garden" sponsored by the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at the library for children ages 10-12.
Kids will create newspaper pots, learn how to give seeds a great start in life and make plant markers for the pots and the courtyard garden.

• Tuesday, April 30

— "Destroy Your Shirt" sponsored by the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the library for ages 13 to 18. Teens will have the opportunity to tailor a new top or bag, or make something new from an old T-shirt they bring from home.

— "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Groundhogs" sponsored by the Groundhog Club, will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Lower Level Children's area of the Library. Featuring one of Phil's handlers, children will be able to listen to stories and participate in groundhog-related activities.

— "Snyder Hill One-Room School House," sponsored by the Historical and Genealogical Society, will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. at the School House. Families will have the chance to tour and experience a real one-room school house, complete with slate boards and inkwells, which were once used in the early 1900s. They will also have the opportunity to participate in some fun school activities of that era.

• Wednesday, May 1

— "Phantastic Phil's Scavenger Hunt," sponsored by the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce, will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Participants will meet at Phil's Burrow by the Top Hat Phantastic Phil for instructions and return there when finished.

— There will be "Free Open Swim nights at the Middle School Pool" from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1, and Thursday, May 2. The event will be sponsored by the Punxsutawney Area School District and School Health Council. All pool rules apply, and adults must be in the pool with non-swimmers.

• Thursday, May 2 — "Free Open Gym at the Punxsutawney Area Community Center," sponsored by the Punxsutawney Area Community Center, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Participants can play basketball or other indoor sports.

— "Cupcakes on Parade," sponsored by the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the library. Kids ages 5 to 9 will listen to a reading of "Give a Cat a Cupcake," then design their own paper-outline cupcakes utilizing glitter, sequins, buttons, poms and yarn.

The School Health Council would like to give a big thank you to the members who will be participating and who worked hard to organize activities for Screen-Free Week.