SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Keeping kids happy and healthy has been harder this summer than previous summers due to COVID-19. That's why the Santa Barbara Public Health conference last Friday featured guest speaker Suzanne Grimmesey from the county behavior wellness.
During the presentation Grimmesey said kids need school and sports to be mentally stimulated. Moderate exercise of at least twenty minutes promotes better sleep and helps them better focus immediately afterwords on school work. It also helps them stay engaged and avoid irritability.
Also during the presentation Grimmesey gave parents pointers on how to prepare for virtual school from home. She suggests keeping a similar schedule to school to continue the same learning routine. And also continue the same school traditions like back to school shopping, first day of school pictures and showing excitement for a new school year.
One local club that's been able to get kids playing sports is the Santa Barbara Soccer Club. And they've done so over at Girsh Park with the aid of health officials.
Justin Wilkins is the executive director for Santa Barbara Soccer Club. He said, "Nothing replaces getting out and being active physically, having, you know, contact with your coaches, having contact with your teammates even if it's ten, twelve feet apart, it's better than sitting home, sitting home alone."
Players said they've seen an improvement in their health mentally and physically, running around with their friends and teammates at a distance.
Evyn Miller and Zeina Matni are heading into seventh grade and players in SBSC. They're enjoying being back out on the pitch with their teammates.
"It does make me happy just being with them and finally getting back out there after being quarantined for a little while," said Miller.
"Besides just seeing them all again it's good to get back on the field and like start playing again," added Matni.
Grimmesey said parents should lead by example when it comes to exercising. Make it part of the weekly schedule. And walks around the neighborhood can be a good substitute if group sports aren't available.