Celebrate birthdays in town squares: healthy food, games and physical activity

Birthday cake is the only sugar option allowed on healthy birthdays (Alberto Raggio/GCBA Press)

The families of the city can celebrate the birthdays of the youngest with a different proposal: healthy food and in the squares in the different neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. For now, they can only do it in Parque Centenario, but they will gradually add new green and outdoor spaces where Healthy Stations already operate.

The idea is to celebrate two hours with educational games and at the same time help families to add knowledge about healthy eating and reverse the consumption of products that mostly affect the health of the little ones.

According to the Ministry of Health of Buenos Aires, 43.7% of boys and girls between the ages of 2 and 14 are overweight, For this reason, non-alcoholic, alcoholic drinks and ultra-processed foods are omitted from the table of these birthday parties.

The proposal

Paula Vignolo She is a nutritionist and coordinator of Parque Centenario’s Healthy Station, one of ten that are distributed throughout the city, in addition to commuters who pass through different points of Buenos Aires. Those who want to arrive there are attended by nurses who monitor their blood pressure, height and weight, and also receive free nutritional advice every day. On weekends, they include physical activity programs and cognitive workshops at fixed stations.

Two months ago, they added a different offering between inflatables, basketball hoops, and a candy table that usually has cupcakes, cookies, truffles, pudding, cereal, and fruit. And a cake is waiting in the fridge.

It’s a healthy birthday, a free city initiative that started in 2019 but was halted by the pandemic. “We did some pilot tests in July to refine the proposition,” he says. Araceli Caballottia kindergarten teacher who leads the celebration at Parque Centenario together with Jarno Storino, a student in the Faculty of Physical Education.

These celebrations take place from Monday to Saturday and were in high demand before the lockdown. “We all had busy schedules on the weekends,” says Vignolo, emphasizing, “The goal is to encourage mindful eating, good hydration, and body movement.”

One of the games involves assembling salads with different ingredients (Alberto Raggio/GCBA Press)
One of the games involves assembling salads with different ingredients (Alberto Raggio/GCBA Press)

What are healthy birthdays?

There are inflatables to play with. In one, the challenge is to dip balls into a bag and the first team to score eight, the recommended number of glasses of water per day, wins. The other inflatable has rings with which you have to assemble salads, fruits or vegetables, according to the slogan.

These types of activities vary according to the age of the birthday person (There are three age groups: 2 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 12). The offerings, organizers say, are based on sensory, fine and gross motor skills, body expression, dramatizations and games of cognitive skills and competition, according to the group.

From 2 to 5 yearsActivities: Sensory activities, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, body expression, dramatizations and materials to be used are: soft play area, kitchen box, inflatables, balls, embo games, fabrics, music.

From 6 to 8 years: Activities based on body expression, gross motor skills, skill play, cognitive skill games and materials used are: kitchens, inflatables, rings, balls, images, memo quiz, music.

From 9 to 12 years: Activities based on cognitive skills, motor skills, body expression and materials used are: kitchens, inflatables, rings, balls, images, memo tests, riddles, kitchen utensils, music.

The duration is two hours and is organized as follows: thirty minutes for welcoming guests and park games; another half hour for lunch and the same time for activities with workshop leaders from Estaciones Saludables. Fifteen minutes for the cake moment and singing “Happy Birthday” and another fifteen for the final game and closing of the event.

Paula Vignolo is a nutritionist and coordinator of the Parque Centenario Healthy Station (Alberto Raggio/GCBA Press)
Paula Vignolo is a nutritionist and coordinator of the Parque Centenario Healthy Station (Alberto Raggio/GCBA Press)

“We ask that there be at least one responsible adult for every 10 children”, explains Vignolo and specifies that there cannot be more than 30 children at a celebration.

To celebrate a birthday in this way, you need to register through a form and on the social networks of @BABienestar. They can be celebrated during breakfast, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; during lunch, from 12:30 to 14:30 or during snacks, from 15:00 to 17:00.

“We are also interested in promoting the celebration in a public space and outdoors,” says the nutritionist, explaining that if it rains that day, it will be rescheduled.

The purpose of this proposal is to educate families about the problem of childhood overweight and obesity. Therefore, families are responsible for bringing the food, which must be adapted to a list of healthy recipes that the Station provides when arranging a date and time for the celebration. “It’s not about being super healthy, it’s about avoiding ultra-processed foods and knowing what you’re eating”Vignolo clarifies.

namely no hot dogs or hamburgers, no soft drinks or fried foods, nor alcoholic beverages, industrial juices, snacks or ultra-processed foods. “Nothing that has excess simple sugars, sodium, or saturated fat,” he clarifies. The cake is the only free thing on the menu.

According to what he has observed so far, “the experience with the boys is good because they try and are surprised by the table, which is different from the one they are used to meeting”.

*Registration in this form


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