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SHIRLEY — National Turnoff the TV Week fell on school vacation week this year, but that didn’t stop Shirley students from celebrating it at school the week before.

“Our nursing team has decided to be in charge of this week because we feel it is very important,” said Christine Van Ells, the nurse leader for the Shirley public schools. “During this week, and throughout the year, we hope to promote wellness, healthy lifestyles, and good old family fun.”

A 1999 study showed that when you added up the time children spent watching television, videotapes and DVDs, and playing video games, it averages six hours and 32 minutes per day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Web site. That means that by the time these kids are 70, they will have watched a screen for seven to 10 years of their lives.

To cut down on screen time and promote this week, celebrated April 14 to 18 in Shirley, Van Ells and her team planned a few activities for students and families to partake in. A Family Game Night was held April 17 at Shirley Middle School. A celebration for children at Lura A. White School who made it the whole week without flipping on the “tube” was held April 18.

At Family Game Night, participants could play Dance Dance Revolution in the school’s library, develop their own home fitness programs with trainer Kim Kalinowski, play Frisbee tag or basketball in the school’s outside area or take a two-mile family walk led by Van Ells.

Families were also treated to healthy snacks, such as pretzels, applesauce, oranges and cheese sticks. They got to wash the treats down with fruit smoothies made by the Spencer family.

“This is my kids’ favorite recipe — vanilla yogurt, milk, ice, strawberries and bananas,” said resident Tracie Spencer. “We heard about this night and we were happy to come and help out.”

“I am so happy that every year we have more and more families that pick healthy activities over turning on their TVs during this week,” said Van Ells.

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