Motivating kids with PLAAY

Motivating kids with PLAAY

For half an hour on Thursday morning, 20,000 Alaska kids will move in sync.

Students from at least 96 schools across the state will participate in PLAAY Day, a half-hour Winter Olympics-themed exercise session connecting students simultaneously via video link to instructors in Anchorage.

“It’s pretty neat,” Ann Potempa, Play Every Day coordinator, said. “Because at 10 a.m., thousands of kids across Alaska are going to be physically active all at the same time.”

The event is a collaboration between the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame and the Department of Health and Social Services Play Every Day program, a public health campaign begun in 2012 to prevent and reduce childhood obesity in Alaska.

One in three Alaska children, and one in two adults in Alaska are obese, according to a 2017 Alaska Obesity Facts Report. Obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a dozen types of cancer, Potempa said.

“Obesity is a serious health concern,” Potempa said.

Play Every Day’s two key health goals are to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and promote alternatives like milk or water and see that children get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day.

PLAAY, or Positive Leadership for Active Alaska Youth, is aimed at helping kids associate that crucially needed daily exercise with fun.

“This is a fun way to help get kids motivated,” Potempa said.

At least eight schools from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have signed up to join in the PLAAY Day activities.

“I want to start planting the seed that being healthy is something you do for your lifetime,” Maria Chythlook, a physical education teacher at Sterling Elementary, said.

Chythlook said students at the school responded well to last year’s event, which had an Iditarod theme, and are excited to join again this year.

“I just think the idea is amazing — to get kids exercising and playing and healthy,” Chythlook said. “Let’s face it, there are too many video games in living rooms.”

The PLAAY Day event is just one part of a larger effort to promote youth health and fitness in Alaska.

Thursday’s exercise session will be followed by a two-day professional development conference for adults who work with youth in the area of physical education. The goal is to create more informed adult leaders who can support the emotional and physical health of youth, PLAAY Director Wally Wilson said.

The PLAAY Summit takes a holistic approach to youth health, Jean Marcey, assistant professor of health, physical education and recreation at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, said.

The conference will include presentations on everything from sports life lessons to childhood abuse, opioid use and sleeping habits. Former U.S. Olympic Swim Team coach David Marsh will present the keynote address.

Marcey, who served on the PLAAY planning committee, said the conference will feature local insight from Alaska-based experts.

“It really shows the depth of what is happening here in Alaska to support youth in developing not only as leaders, but also as being healthy and trying to curb many of the things that are unhealthy,” she said.

Reach Erin Thompson at

Motivating kids with PLAAY

More in News

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Carol Freas (right) helps a voter fill out absentee election materials in Kenai City Hall ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Absentee voting already underway

Absentee in-person voting has been made available across the borough

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
What’s on the ballot: Reapportionment, new field house, school bond

Voters will decide on ballot measures that address schools, public safety and legislative bodies

Cars line up ahead of dismissal at Mountain View Elementary School on Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. A bond package up for consideration by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Oct. 4 would fund improvements to the school’s traffic flow. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Parking lot problems

Lack of space for pickup and drop-offs creates traffic jam at elementary school

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out elements of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Aging school on the brink

Renovations are cost prohibitive at Soldotna Elementary

Rep. Mary Peltola, an Alaska Democrat, delivers a speech on the U.S. House floor before Thursday’s vote approving her first bill, establishing an Office of Food Security in the Department of Veterans Affairs. It passed the House by a 376-49 vote, although its fate in the Senate is undetermined. (Screenshot from official U.S. House video)
Poll: Peltola’s a popular pol

Food for vets bill passes House, pollster says she is “the most popular figure in Alaska right now.”

A parking sign awaits the new executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund at its Juneau headquarters, Three finalists will be interviewed for the job during a public meeting Monday by the fund’s board of trustees, who are expected to deliberate and announce the new director immediately afterward. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Interviews, selection of new Permanent Fund CEO set for Monday

Three finalists seeking to manage $73.7B fund to appear before trustees at public meeting in Juneau

Principal Sarge Truesdell looks at cracked siding outside of Soldotna High School on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. The siding is one of several projects in a bond package Kenai Peninsula voters will consider during the Oct. 4 municipal election. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Split siding at SoHi

The damage has been given patchwork treatment over the years

Most Read