Kids Bowl Free is a summer program that has introduced bowling to millions. Last year, more than 2.3 million kids from across the country and Canada took advantage of the program. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Kids Bowl Free promotes fun, fitness

From a game in which she didn’t hit a single pin to qualifying for the Pepsi State Tournament, Julia South has come a long way in a short time.

The 6-year-old Kettering girl got her start on the lanes just over a year ago in the Kids Bowl Free program and recently qualified to the state event. She and her brother, Griffin, 8, both competed in the Pepsi District Tournament.

“She was very excited about qualifying to state,” Julia’s dad, Andrew South, said. “She has improved so much.”

Julia now regularly breaks 100 and her big brother — who also got his start in Kids Bowl Free — usually breaks the 100-pin mark in two of three league games.

Kids Bowl Free is a summer program that has introduced the sport to millions. Last year, more than 2.3 million kids from across the country and Canada took advantage of the program.

Participation is easy as parents can register their children — 15 and younger in most cases – at www.kidsbowlfree.com. Parents can select the most convenient bowling center and, once the registration is complete, will receive weekly coupons via email for two free games daily. Participation days and hours are determined by the individual centers and are available online.

“I didn’t expect them to take to it the way they did, but I’m glad they enjoy it,” Andrew said. “Anything that keeps the kids moving is a good thing, but what’s great about bowling is you can do it year-round whether it’s hot or cold outside.”

And, with bowling, fun and fitness can go hand-in-hand — a plus for parents trying to make sure their children stay active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Bowling is one way to meet that requirement. And, did you know that two games of bowling engage as many as 184 muscles? It can also help improve coordination and balance.

But it’s fun, not fitness, that keeps Julia on the lanes.

“My favorite thing is getting strikes and spares,” she said with a smile.

The dates for the Kids Bowl Free program vary by center with most running from about mid-May through late July or early August. But Julia and Griffin weren’t about to call it quits after the program ended last summer as they joined a Saturday youth league at Poelking Woodman Lanes. Now, Mom and Dad are getting in on the act as well.

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