Like countless others coming out of the height of the global pandemic, I found myself in poorer physical health, plus my mental wellness needed to become more of a priority. A pre-diabetes diagnosis last year nudged me to make some personal and family health changes. I started with changing my eating habits, practicing mindfulness and simply moving more. By the end of the year, I could see and feel the impact these changes had on our family’s physical health and mental wellness.
As a family, we have become more intentional about taking care of our health. I am now nearly 40 pounds lighter and enjoy better mental health. I am also a more active, engaged and emotionally well mama and wife.
As parents, we can serve as role models for our kids by prioritizing our own health and well-being. The OKC metro is loaded with opportunities that are not only fun for the family but that also promote health. Let’s look at some places your family can visit with wellness in mind. How many of these Family Wellness Challenges can your family complete? Take some photos, share and tag us at #mfmwellnesschallenge!
Community Parks and Recreation Centers
Local community parks and recreation departments are a wellness treasure trove. From one-time events to ongoing programs, you are sure to find something for the whole family.
OKC Parks and Edmond Parks
Both OKC Parks and Edmond Parks offer many programs at their recreation centers for free or at minimal cost.
- Challenge: Work out at one of the recreation centers that has a fitness center complete with free weights and cardio equipment. The cost to you is as little as $2 per day or $10 per month to enjoy single facilities, or purchase a ParksFitPass for access to Foster, Schilling and Pete White Health and Wellness centers’ fitness room equipment.
- Challenge: Adult family members ages 50 and over can enjoy the health and wellness benefits of free classes such as gentle yoga, seated hula or Tai Chi at OKC Parks’ Will Rogers Senior Center.
- Challenge: For your athletic child, Pitt Recreation Center offers free weekly clinics in a variety of sports, including basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball. These clinics can help your child improve their skills regardless of whether they are on an organized or school sports team; they’re also great if you are simply looking for a way to get your child moving more. Added bonuses: making new friends and having fun are great for kids’ mental health!
- Challenge: New to hiking? Register your family for the free Day Hiking class in Edmond Parks’ Trail 13 series. The whole family can learn the basics of hiking and end the program with a short, guided hike into the woods. Classes are held monthly at Edmond Park; preregister at edmondparks.com.
Curious about accessibility at local parks? Find five parks that are the perfect destinations for inclusive, active play for children of all abilities at metrofamilymagazine.com/equal-
Have you heard of bibliotherapy? Also known as book therapy, the practice involves using reading materials to work through problems, reduce stress and promote mental health. Reading can help give insight into your emotions and can even serve as a source of comfort when you are going through difficult times.
The Metropolitan Library System and Pioneer Library System
Both local library systems are filled with thousands of reading materials for your family to engage in some bibliotherapy, plus they offer free classes focused on health, fitness and wellness.
- Challenge: Help your child find a fictional book about an emotion they are feeling. Talk about how the main character worked through those emotions.
- Challenge: Take your child to a weekly library story time. Teens and adults in the family can join a monthly book club. The social interaction that comes with participating in these activities can benefit mental health.
- Challenge: Register to participate in a free Brain Health Program through the Pioneer Library System. This interactive program shows how art activities can improve mental health.
- Challenge: Attend a free wellness-focused class at your local library. Programs are available for all ages and include strength training, Pilates, yoga and even line dancing. Ideas include:
- For adults: register for an eight-week interactive Total Wellness Program or take a Tai Chi class through the Metropolitan Library System.
- For kids PreK and under: enjoy a weekly session of Read & Romp or Wiggly Wednesdays for some natural active play at Metropolitan Library System locations.
- For school-aged kids: sign up for a weekly hip hop, breaking and street dance series, a Just Dance Tournament with prizes and even a Social Media Dance Challenge and Dance Party through the Metropolitan Library System.
- For the whole family: Practice yoga together at a weekly Get Moving Family Yoga class through the Pioneer Library System.
- For ages 5 and up: register to participate in an interactive and hands-on healthy eating series like Eat Smart through PLS or the After School Snack series through MLS. These classes are grouped into age ranges with some specifically for children 5 to 11 years old, some for teens only and a few that the whole family can enjoy together.
When you think about visiting museums, you usually think of it as an educational leisure activity. However, research suggests museums can have beneficial effects on physical and mental health by reducing stress, anxiety and even blood pressure. On those days when the family stress level is high, get out and visit one of these local attractions.
Science Museum Oklahoma
This attraction is a family favorite for education and fun. Walking around the museum is also a great way to get some steps for the day.
- Challenge: Check out the fun fitness challenges in the Power Play exhibit. Which family member has the highest vertical jump? Who has the best balance? Who can reach the top of the climbing wall?
Looking at and creating art is great for the mind. It can change your mood, make you think or simply calm you. Oklahoma Contemporary offers guests the opportunity to view and create artwork that engages the senses and sparks creativity.
- Challenge: Walk around the indoor exhibits and then create your own works of art in the Learning Gallery. Next, go outside to get some steps in by strolling around the museum grounds to view the Art Garden and Campbell Art Park exhibits. These indoor and outdoor activities can enhance your family’s mental and physical well-being. Discuss how each of you feels afterward. Admission to all exhibits is free.
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Located in Norman on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, the Fred is home to a collection of more than 20,000 objects, plus the museum showcases temporary exhibits throughout the year.
- Challenge: Explore SYNESTHESIA, an immersive special exhibit by Factory Obscura. Make connections between art and the mind by talking about which pieces made each of you feel the calmest or the happiest and why. Admission is free.
This downtown OKC destination is filled with plenty of opportunities for your family to play and try out activities that push comfort zones!
- Challenge: Bring the family to MetroFamily’s OKC Thrive Fest at Riversport OKC on Saturday, March 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a day filled with health and wellness education, adventure and fun! The variety of activities for all ages will inspire your family to get moving toward fitness and wellness. Admission to this event is free.
- Challenge: Take your family fitness to new heights in the Riversport Youth Zone. The Sky Tykes adventure ropes course gives kids a safe and controlled environment to climb, balance and navigate obstacles. And for those who want to stay closer to the ground, there is plenty of adventure to be had at the Youth Zone playground, which is always free to use. Admission to the Riversport Youth Zone attractions is $9.99.
With 70 acres of trails, sports courts, playgrounds and even a roller skating rink, your family is sure to find opportunities to be active here.
- Challenge: Grab another family or two, a ball and some healthy snacks and then swing by to enjoy some friendly competition on the basketball court, futsal field or a few rounds of pickleball.
- Challenge: Check out the park’s free weekly wellness programs such as Yoga in the Park to engage your body and mind.
Did you know USA Today listed Oklahoma City as the No. 1 city for street art in 2022? Walking around the city to see murals is a great way to get some exercise as well as enjoy some cool art!
- Challenge: Explore some of the city’s most well-known public art by downloading MetroFamily’s Street Art Scavenger Hunt at metrofamilymagazine.com/
- Challenge: Put on some walking shoes and hit the pavement to find your favorite street art. One of our family favorites is the 200 foot by 25 foot Bricktown OKCtopus created by Jack Fowler located behind the Chevy Events Center at 429 E. California Ave. in Oklahoma City. How many of the 88 hidden objects in the octopus can your family find?
Use these challenges to start your own family wellness journey or create your own list. We’d love to see what you come up with! Take some photos, share and tag us at #mfmwellnesschallenge.