The Oneida Indian Nation’s Government Programs and Services celebrated the 25th anniversary of Kids’ Day at the Ray Elm Children and Elders Center on Wednesday, June 27. It was a rainy afternoon, but employees from Health Services, the Nation Police Department, the Housing Department, the Elders Program, Member Benefits, the Nation library and the Early Learning Center didn’t let the gloom outside damper the party. The Elders wing of the C & E Center was rocking with music, games and fun activities for kids of all ages.
As kids walked down the hall to the dining room where the games were set up, they stopped to get strawberry slushies and cotton candy. The sweet treats were made by Elders, Linda Williams (Turtle Clan) and Sandra LaClair, and Elders program coordinator, Kathy Willard. When the kids entered the dining room, Officer Tim Boehlert already had hot dogs on the grill under the tent outside for lunch.
The games that looped around the room were stationed by staff from the Recreation Department and Health Services. Kids could shoot hoops, try their hand at archery, attempt to get a ringer on the elephant trunk ring toss and complete different obstacle courses for prizes. DJ Brian Emerson from the Housing Department kept the music playing all afternoon and a special photo booth was set up where kids and their families could get strips of photos to remember the day.
Many attendees at the 25th Kids’ Day were there for the first time, including Birdy Burdick’s (Turtle Clan) two year old great-granddaughter, Emma. “It’s great to have fun with the kids,” Birdy said after lunch. “She loves it here.”
The event was capped off with the last set of door prize drawings, which featured other fun games the kids could play at home. Although the event was forced indoors, the 25th anniversary of Kids’ Day still delivered an afternoon of family fun.
Another first-timer was Shelby Power’s (Turtle Clan) son, Jayce. “We had a lot of fun,” Shelby said getting one last cotton candy for the road. “It’s our first time and we’ll definitely be back next year.”
The special anniversary of Kids’ Day offered a chance to reflect on the event’s significance over the years. It’s an event that spotlights the youngest generations and encourages them to interact with the various programs and services the Nation provides. GP&S program coordinator, Pat Catalano, says the mission of Kids’ Day has always been to promote health and safety through games and other activities
“The main focus of the event is on health promotion and disease prevention for kids,” she said. “Kids’ Day is always held right after the school year ends so the children receive health and safety messages before summer begins.”
The Oneida Indian Nation puts on several events each year to recognize and engage with the Nation community, and promote health and wellness activities.