Play Together, Stay Together

Juurikkalahden Kiri (JUKI), the largest youth soccer club in Sotkamo, Finland, has joined with the Sotkamo Lions Club to organize a free weekly sports activity available to everyone – locals and tourists alike – to help families stay connected and increase physical fitness.

With so much competing for our attention these days, it can be hard for families to find ways to be together that don’t involve a screen. But research shows that families who keep active together not only improve their health, but also improve their bond.

Sport and exercise psychologist Jocelyn Penna told the Sydney Morning Herald, “Although downtime is important, many people spend far too much time inactive, so when families exercise together, they gain the combined benefits of being together, growing together, and encouraging each other to be active.”

Last year, more than 100 children, parents, and grandparents participated in the JUKI/Lions program, which they called “A Lions Hour of Exercise with Your Child.”

The activity is designed for everyone, regardless of their ability or previous experience with organized sports. Most importantly, the collaboration makes it possible for all families to participate regardless of their ability to pay. As an added bonus, families are finding new connections in the area and tourists get to know local families.

In 2018, the JUKI soccer club was awarded the annual “Sports Award of the Year” for promoting both outdoor and indoor soccer in the area for several years with outstanding results.

JUKI is coed and has been growing every year. The club pays special attention to getting girls involved in soccer, and the partnership with Lions was acknowledged as “a remarkable example of keeping children active and engaged.”