Bowling Green Community Center changes age policy in effort to limit childhood obesity

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - For many adults the start of a new year means a focus on health and fitness. At Bowling Green's community center the goal is to get kids involved, too.

"Anything we can do to get them up, to get them active at least 30 minutes a day," said director of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Kristin Otley. "Some kids are not getting that."

On Wednesday the center unveiled a new policy that allows kids nine through 12 to use exercise rooms without adult supervision. It overturns a long-standing policy that previously limited unsupervised use to the age of 13.

"We feel that it is very important in terms of getting kids out, getting them active, keeping them healthy," said Otley.

The change comes at a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children and teens get at least one hour of moderate exercise a day. Leaders at the BG Community Center say it's something that most kids aren't doing.

"All the kids—it seems like they have phones, they have the video games," said Otley. "So really anything that we can do to get them out and get them active."

With the new rule kids will have to sign-in and have emergency contact info on file. Parents will also need to make sure each child has a paid membership. There will also be restrictions for the use of weights and track.

"For that age group a lot of it is going to be stuff in our courts," said Otley. "We have volleyball nets, basketball shooting hoops, doing some little cardio workouts."

While the move might cause concerns for some of the center's users, others like Chad Krukemyer see it as a positive.

"Getting kids active as early as possible is always a good idea," said Krukemyer. "They have lots of workers here. They usually have two or three staff members upstairs. So I don't think that would be a problem."

Center leaders see it that way, too, as they hope to promote healthy lifestyles for everyone in Bowling Green.

You can find more information on memberships and policies at the BG Community Center here.