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3 healthy activities for Howard County families

It’s New Year’s resolution season, and this year local organizations are offering plenty of ways to help you reach your health and wellness goals as a family.

Julija Sajauskas has fond memories of growing up, playing sports with her parents.

“Having the memories of being able to get a little competitive then going home and laughing about it afterwards are great. It’s not just about practicing. It’s also about having fun,” says Sajauskas, now the facility director at the Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City.

At the Community Center, designated family times on the basketball and volleyball courts make it easy for families to enjoy a little healthy sports activity — and competition — without worrying about competing against older, more serious players.

“The family time is effective because it designates it with more appropriate language, less competitive play and we can drop the basketball hoops to a lower height, so kids can be more successful and they’re not getting trampled on by a bunch of adults,” Sajuauskas says.

Roger Carter Community Center, 3000 Milltowne Drive, Ellicott City. Family volleyball: Wednesdays 7 p.m.-10 p.m, Saturdays 5 p.m.-7 p.m., and Sundays 7 a.m.-9 a.m. Family basketball: Mondays 8 p.m.-10 p.m. and Saturdays 7 a.m.-9 a.m. $5 admission for ages 3 and up. 410-313-2764. howardcountymd.gov/rccc.

The temperature might be low, but that doesn’t mean you have to hunker down indoors all winter long. Howard County Striders, a nonprofit that organizes running events, puts on a laid-back series of all-ages wintertime races called Operation Iceberg that will get you sweating, even in January.

“The Striders’ low-key races are an inexpensive way to get out, and you get to meet all kinds of runners, families and get to know the roads all over Howard County,” says Striders Vice President Cecilia Murach.

Running teaches resilience and can be empowering for children, says Murach, and it’s a great way to get some fresh air, even during the chilly winter months. “You can give them the example that when things get tough, you can keep going.”

Operation Iceberg races: Jan. 7, 14 and 28 at 2 p.m. $2 per runner. Races vary in length and location. striders.net.

Learning about CPR and first aid is a great — and practical — way to bond as a family, says Jonathan Epstein, senior director of Science and Content Development for the American Red Cross. Certification classes are available throughout the year at different locations around the county.

Though the Red Cross does not have an official age requirement for CPR or first aid certification, Epstein says families should consider their children’s physical strength and maturity level. Training course materials are written at about a fifth-grade reading level, he says. Kids also need to be able to do chest compressions and have the right temperament for the class, which can be as short as 90 minutes (plus an online component completed at home) or as long as seven hours, and include periods of sitting and listening quietly.

In addition certification classes, the Red Cross has created an online program focused on basic information and first aid techniques.

“A family, on a snowy day, can take the program together and talk contextually. ‘Who would call 911? Where is the first aid kit?’ There are a lot of activities to do as a family together,” Epstein says.

To find local classes or online options, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

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