“Look at this cool cantaloupe, Dad!”

Over the weekend I was grocery shopping at the local grocery in Derry, NH. I was nearing the end of my shopping trip and walking through the produce section gathering cucumbers, oranges, peppers and onions. As I rounded the tomato corner, I saw a little boy run over to the pre-cut/packaged fruit section and lift up a halved papaya and say “Look at this cool cantaloupe, Dad!” His father replied with, “That’s not a cantaloupe. I think it’s a papaya”. The little boy shrugged, put the fruit down and ran toward his father asking “What’s a papaya?” I kept walking and did not hear the father’s response, but this did get me thinking.

I thought about my job and what the Southern District YMCA does for children through our health initiatives. I imagined the conversation with the boy a little differently… I imagined him running over to the papaya, holding it up and saying “Look, Dad, it’s a papaya! We tried this at afterschool with the YMCA!” Healthy living is something I strive for every day. I try to eat healthy. I try to stay active. I try to introduce my daughter to healthy foods and expose her to a variety of fresh fruits and veggies. I felt proud of us as we walked through the grocery store and my 15 month old daughter devoured strawberry after strawberry, rather than unhealthy snacks, while sitting in the shopping cart. I live and breathe the YMCA’s goals through all aspects of my life.

When I reflect upon that moment with the little boy, his father and the papaya, I think about how lucky the 600+ children are who we serve in our after school programs. They are trying new fruits, veggies and grains that they may not have had exposure to anywhere else other than at our program. I believe that there are countless children who have tried foods in our program for the first time and benefited from YMCA healthy initiatives. Parents often share their enthusiasm for the snack choices the YMCA provides in afterschool programs.

I hold my head high when I say I work for the Southern District YMCA. I know that children in our afterschool programs are moving their bodies daily, they are participating in fun and enriching activities and they are eating fresh food every day.  I know for a fact that we are changing lives, and to me, that’s a pretty big deal.

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