illustration of people enjoying a day at the parkPark and Recreation Month

Parks are the perfect places to get exercise while having fun. Jacksonville has more than 400 parks that offer different activities. Here are some of the fun things you can do:
  • Explore - You can your family can enjoy kayaking, horseback riding and hiking without leaving the city. Visit Castaway Island Preserve, Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trails, Julington Durbin Creek Preserve and more to explore nature.
  • Swim – Several of our parks have community pools and splash pads to help you beat the Florida heat. Some of the parks where these are available include Emmett Reed Park, Harts Road Park, Bruce Park, Losco Regional Park and Oceanway Park.
  • Learn – Many of our parks have museums and centers on-site where visitors can learn about history and nature. A few of these types of parks include Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Tree Hill Nature Center, Walter Jones Historical Park, and Tille K. Fowler Regional Park.
  • Play – Lace up your sneakers and get ready to play! Many of Jacksonville’s parks have playgrounds, baseball fields, basketball courts and tennis courts that you are encouraged to use. There’s even a park for skateboarding and roller skating complete with ramps, half pipes, quarter pipes and more. Check out Cuba Hunter Skate Park, Black Island Hammock Park, Carvill Park, Cecil Field, Ed Austin Regional Park and Grunthal Park.

Discover more about our parks by visiting the Jax Parks website at www.jaxparks.com.

Download the Park and Recreation Hidden Object activity sheet.

emergency kit including water, flashlight, batterials and first aid suppliesEmergency Preparedness Month

Disasters can affect everyone, which is why it’s important for everyone to be prepared, including you. Here’s how you can help your family get ready for an emergency: 

Build a Kit – Being prepared for an emergency isn't just about staying safe during a disaster. It's about how to stay comfortable, clean, fed and healthy afterward – when a storm or disaster may have knocked out electricity or blocked roads. If you lost power, the refrigerator and microwave will not work. You might not get clean water out of your faucets. How would you find out whether it was safe to play outside without the TV or computer? Families should gather enough food, water, clothing, and supplies for at least three days and place them in an emergency kit. Some of the items you should pack include:
 
  • Non-perishable food (such as dried fruit or peanut butter)
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils, paper towels
  • Water – at least a gallon per person, per day
  • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Flashlights
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Can opener (manual)
  • Local maps
  • Pet supplies
  • Baby supplies (formula, diapers)
Make a Plan Some disasters strike without any warning, and family members may not all be in the same place. How will you get in touch with each other? Where will you meet? How will you get out of your house in case of a fire? What if your neighborhood is being evacuated? It's important to make a plan now so that you will know what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate in an emergency. Here are 
  • Pick the same person for each family member to call or email. It might be easier to reach someone who's out of town.
  • Text, don't talk, unless it's an emergency. It may be easier to send a text, if you have a phone, and you don't want to tie up phone lines for emergency workers.
  • Create a fire escape plan that has two ways out of every room and practice it twice a year.
  • Choose a meeting spot near your home, then practice getting there.
  • Choose a spot outside of your neighborhood in case you can't get home. Practice getting there from school, your friends' houses and after school activities.
  • Keep your family's contact info and meeting spot location in your backpack, wallet, or taped inside your school notebook. Put it in your cellphone if you have one.
Learn more at https://www.ready.gov/kids.

Download the Emergency Preparedness Word Search here.

illustration of children biking to schoolBicycle Safety Month

Riding a bike is fun, a great way to exercise and good for the environment. While you’re enjoying your ride, it’s important to remember these safety tips:

  • ALWAYS wear a helmet – Wearing a fitted helmet helps protect your brain in case there is an accident.

  • Wear bright clothes – No matter the time of day, it’s important to wear clothes that help make you more visible to drivers. Wearing something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, is even better.

  • Ride on the sidewalk – Whenever possible, ride on the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk is safer for children than riding in the street.

  • Control your bike – Always ride with at least one hand on the handle bar. Books and other items should be placed in a bicycle carrier or backpack.

  • Pay attention– Always be on the lookout for hazards  like potholes, broken glass, puddles, cars and other potential dangers.

  • Follow the rules – There are road rules for cars and bicycles. Stop at sidewalk corners to look for cars and make sure drivers see you before crossing. 

Download the Bike to School Maze.

illustration of smiling fruits and vegetablesNational Nutrition Month

Similar to the way a car needs gasoline to drive, your body uses food as fuel to properly function. That’s why it’s important to make healthy food choices by eating meals and snacks that are nutritious, as well as delicious. You can use the five food groups to select the foods that will power your day.

  • Vegetables – Vegetables are encouraged at every meal because they provide the vitamins and minerals needed to keep your body healthy. Examples: carrots, spinach, broccoli and cucumbers
  • Fruit – Fruit also provides important vitamins and minerals that help you stay well. Try to eat fruit often. Examples: bananas, grapes and pineapples. Check out this healthy, tasty recipe to try with your parents: Apple Slice Pancakes 
  • Grain – Grain, especially wholegrain, has fiber and B vitamins that help with digestion. Examples: cereals, rice, bread and pasta
  • Protein – Your body uses protein to build, repair and maintain tissue, muscles and organs. Examples: fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and chicken
  • Dairy – This food group is an excellent source of calcium, which is important for strong, healthy bones. Examples: milk, yogurt and cheese

illustration of toothbrush and toothpasteChildren’s Dental Health Month

Our tiny teeth have BIG jobs! We use our teeth to help us eat, talk and smile, so it is important to treat them well. Here are a few ways to keep your teeth health and strong: 

  • Brush twice a day for at least two minutes – Brushing is important for a bright, healthy smile!  It may seem like a boring, but there are ways to make brushing more fun, like playing and dancing to your favorite song, humming a tune, or using a toothbrush shaped like your favorite superhero, princess or cartoon character.
  • Floss every day – Flossing is just as essential as brushing. Floss gets between your teeth to remove food that toothbrushes can’t reach. This helps keeps your teeth and gums clean, preventing plaque and other germs. 
  • Eat more tooth-friendly foods – Fruit, vegetables, cheese, lean meats and nuts are better for your teeth than cookies, candy and chips. They’re delicious too! MmmmMmmm. 
  • See your dentist at least twice a year – Your dentist is a friendly doctor who helps take care of your teeth. When you get a dental exam, the dentist counts your teeth; sees if you’re brushing properly; makes sure your teeth are growing correctly and looks for cavities. The dentist also checks your tongue and the inside of your mouth to make sure they are healthy too. If you have questions about your teeth, your dentist can help. 
Download the dental health coloring sheet and post it where you can easily see it when you brush your teeth as a reminder to take care of your smile!

New year resolutionsNew Year, New Healthier You!

A new year means new opportunities to be a healthier, happier you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on your New Year’s resolutions:

  • Eat FIVE or more fruits and vegetables a day by including one serving at every meal and for snack times in between. If you don’t have access to fresh produce, canned or frozen works too! Look for vegetables with no added salt and choose fruits canned in their own juice, not syrup. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just because it’s not love at first bite doesn’t mean you should give up. It can take seven to 10 tries to like a new food.
  • Limit yourself to TWO hours or less of recreational screen time each day. On average, children spend more than seven hours per day using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment. Too much screen time has been linked to obesity, behavioral and social problems, low grades, and reduced physical activity. 
  • Engage in ONE hour or more of physical activity every day. Did you know that less than 50 percent of the time spent in sports practice, games, and physical education class involves moving enough to be considered physical activity? That means you need to move more at home and on weekends. Break physical activity down into shorter blocks of time and remember that all movement counts towards your goal—take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the dog, or turn on your favorite song and dance.
  • Consume ZERO sugary drinks. Instead, fuel your body with low-fat milk or water. If you’re not a fan of the way H2O tastes, try adding a slice of citrus fruit or infusing your water with apples, berries, or kiwis. Just cut up your fruit of choice, drop it in a pitcher or a glass of water, and drink. You can also incorporate more water-rich foods into your diet like yogurt, grapefruit, spinach, broccoli and watermelon—all of which have a water content of 85 percent or more. 

Now that you’ve set goals for the year ahead, take a moment to look back at the accomplishments and special moments that made 2017 memorable. Download the YEAR IN REVIEW activity sheet. Fill it out, snap a photo and email it to kidsclub@coj.net to be featured on our website.