Family-friendly activities for a safe, fun-filled summer.

Research shows that getting outside is not only good for your physical health, it can improve your mental health too. Spending time outside can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. That goes for adults and kids alike. When children get away from their screens and go outside, it builds confidence, promotes creativity, activates more sensory experiences, and reduces fatigue, all of which contribute to healthy child development. Plus, you don’t need much to have a fun time outside! Here are three activities for the whole family that won’t break the bank.

Hit the trails.

We’re fortunate to live in an area with plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore nature. The Clarion-Little Toby Rails to Trails, Redbank Valley Trail, Simon B. Elliot State Park, Parker Dam State Park, Moshannon State Forest are all places that you can enjoy the outdoors and nature. There is no shortage of excellent destinations all within a short drive. Before you head out, make sure to pack plenty of fluids and snacks. Kids can often forget to stay hydrated, so take plenty of water breaks throughout the day.

“If you wait to drink until you’re thirsty, dehydration has already set in,” said Amy Whitsel, CRNP in Urgent Care at Penn Highlands Huntingdon. “It’s better to take frequent sips of water, instead of drinking large amounts less often. Remind yourself to stop and take a sip by setting a timer on your phone or watch to go off every 20 minutes.”

Pack a picnic.

You don’t have to go any farther than your backyard to have a fun afternoon picnic. Pack healthy foods like string cheese, crunchy veggies, bananas with peanut butter, fruits and more. Take along games, coloring books or other activities, and you can spend all afternoon outside!

Have a bike parade.

With screens everywhere these days, keeping kids active can be a challenge. It is critical to their health and well-being that they get the recommended amount of activity.

“Kids ages 6 through 17 should get at least an hour of moderate or vigorous physical activity every day,” said Amy Whitsel, CRNP. “Kids ages 3 through 5 should be physically active throughout the day for proper development.”

Here is a fun way to get some physical activity while also letting kids use their creativity. Go to the craft aisle and pick up balloons, streamers, flags, stickers—sky’s the limit!—and let your kids decorate their bikes. Then, everyone hops on their bikes and rides around the neighborhood so they can show off what they’ve created.

Know where your nearest quick care facility is located.

Accidents and injuries are bound to happen, especially with little ones. Convenient care locations, like Penn Highlands QCare and Penn Highlands Urgent Care in Huntingdon, are great options when your primary care office is closed or you can’t get an appointment as quickly as you would like. Staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants at QCare and Physicians at Urgent Care, Penn Highlands provides walk-in clinics for minor injuries and illnesses.

Penn Highlands QCare and Urgent Care clinics can treat a wide range of minor injuries and illnesses, such as back pain, earaches, flu-like symptoms, minor aches and pains, minor cuts and abrasions, sprains, tick and insect bites, and minor eye problems.

Penn Highlands offers immediate primary care at its QCare Walk-In Clinics in Brookville, Emporium, Clearfield, DuBois, Philipsburg, Punxsutawney, Ridgway, and St. Marys. Penn Highlands Urgent Care in Huntingdon also offers immediate primary care. For more information, visit