By Rachel Bosworth
Physical activity for youth in the winter months becomes limited as there are fewer opportunities to spend time outdoors. Keeping children active during these cold days presents a challenge for many parents, and pediatricians say exercise is crucial year-round, citing various health and well-being reasons. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends kids and teens be physically active for at least one hour per day, while adults only need two-and-a-half hours per week. With childhood obesity being one of the most plaguing dilemmas of our time; a current CDC report states 12.7 million children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years old are affected by obesity, the need to offer exercise options for youth is prevalent in many communities. But how do families combat this now through spring?
Southampton Youth Services (SYS) executive director Scott Johnson heads up the multi-use athletic facility that is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week year-round. SYS partnered with the Town of Southampton to fill the void for a space such as this, and in June of 2003 they opened the new 55,000 square foot Southampton Town Recreation Center. Offering numerous classes for adults and children, activities include court sports, gymnastics, karate, and fencing, which are just some of the many services. While field sports take a break in the winter, there is no shortage of activity here.
“SYS and its tenants offer a plethora of programs throughout the winter months,” Mr. Johnson shares. “We offer both basketball and soccer leagues and clinics, fencing, archery, dance with our new Joy Dance Academy, karate, gymnastics with Hamptons Gymnastics East, blockspot, field hockey clinics, box lacrosse and on and on. We like to believe that if you’re looking for it we offer it!”
The basketball league includes nearly 500 boys and girls from third to eighth grade, with teams from Moriches to Montauk. There are different age classes and tryouts for kids in the Southampton School District to take part in throughout the year, making this an ideal winter activity. The league is something Mr. Johnson feels segues into the success of high school programs.
“This is where competitive basketball begins on the East End, and why I believe our high school programs have had such great success over the last 15 years we’ve been open,” Mr. Johnson says of the clinics and leagues offered at SYS.
He goes on to add that karate has always been a popular class, and that the new dance academy has gotten off to a great start as well. American Academy of Pediatrics shared a study in November of this year that finds kids who play multiple sports are more likely to remain active as teens as compared to those that specialize in a single sport. SYS aims to offers multiple classes at all levels throughout the year in an effort to ensure there is something for everyone, and more.
For the winter months specifically, SYS also offers a Holiday Break Camp from December 26 through 29 for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The camp serves as an extension of the after-school program, and includes numerous types of recreation as well as arts and crafts. “It allows us to provide a safe and active place for the children of those parents who need to go to work during the week between Christmas and New Year,” says Mr. Johnson. “We’ll also get kids that just want to come and have fun for the week.”
SYS isn’t just for kids though. The facility holds a number of fitness classes for adults, including the ever-popular pickleball, spin class, and squash clinics, and there is a fully equipped gym with personal trainers onsite. Parents can also enjoy full body workouts with their little ones in a program called Stroller Strides.
“The winter time is when we shine because everyone needs to come indoors,” explains Mr. Johnson. “The entire community has embraced who SYS is and what we stand for. We look forward to fulfilling those community needs for years to come.”
Southampton Youth Services, Inc. is located at 1370A Majors Path in Southampton. For more information, visit sysinc.org.