Ardie Burnham hosts storytime with children from Shuswap Daycare during the Jam the GM event at Ian Gray’s Salmon Arm GM on Jan. 8. The event serves as the kickoff for the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society’s Unplug and Play events throughout the North Okanagan Shuswap Jan. 25 to Feb. 1. (Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer)

Editorial: Unplug and Play activities offer healthy distraction in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Free events include magic shows, swimming, skating, juggling and games

The Shuswap will soon be busy with activities designed to distract from the distraction of devices.

Saturday, Jan. 25, marks the beginning of this year’s Unplug and Play events, co-ordinated by the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS) in partnership with numerous businesses and organizations throughout the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Events include a wide range of family-friendly activities that are educational, entertaining, energizing and, for the most part, screen-free.

The schedule for the Jan. 25 includes juggling with Evan at the Sicamous library at 11 a.m. and magician Leif David at the Salmon Arm library, also at 11. There are activities at Shuswap Theatre at noon and board games at Sanctuary Games from noon to 6 p.m. At 1 p.m. at the South Shuswap library, representatives from the Okanagan Science Centre are hosting a hands-on exploration of light and sound.

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On Jan. 26, from 1 to 4 p.m., there’s a free family swim at the Salmon Arm pool, free rollerskating at Hassen Arena in Armstrong from 3 to 4 p.m. and free ice skating from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Enderby Arena.

There’s plenty more going on throughout the week from Sorrento to Sicamous and Salmon Arm to Armstrong.

Unplug and Play week, according to LASS, is about “unplugging from technology and spending time together as a family.” There is plenty of information available supporting the importance of this, and the negative effects screen time can have on kids.

According to the Fraser Health Authority, too much screen time, be it on cellphones or other interactive devices, increases a child’s risk of becoming overweight, sleep-deprived, less school-ready and inattentive and/or aggressive. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that children ages 2 and under receive no screen time, and that screen time is limited to one hour per day for kids ages two to five. They also encourage parents to be good role models and limit their own screen time.

For more information about Unplug and Play week, visit the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society’s Facebook page or website at shuswapliteracy.ca.

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