Fitness fest designed to educate and engage

More than 30 vendors will be on-site at Bonney Lake High School to connect families to health services, activities

Staff writerApril 23, 2014 

Bonney Lake A coordinated effort by the Sumner School District, the city of Bonney Lake and the Bonney Lake Chamber of Commerce will celebrate a third year of informing students and parents about what healthful activities and services are available in their community.

On Saturday, May 3, the Family Fitness Fest, with the theme “Spring into Summer,” will become the go-to resource for those seeking a healthier life, according to Loren Willson, the lead school district coordinator.

“I hope people take away from this a motivation to be more active with their families and eat more nutritious food,” Willson said.

A few of the services available during the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bonney Lake High School commons and gymnasium, will include a resource for low-income families to register their children for Medicaid, the WSU Extension Center’s nutrition program and free eye screenings by the Bonney Lake Walmart Vision Center.

“What the city (of Bonney Lake) enjoys getting out of it is creating a sense of community by linking local service providers to local residents, especially those with children,” said Gary Leaf, the facilities and special projects manager for the city of Bonney Lake and a member of the Family Fitness Fest planning team. “That’s our target audience.”

Another partner in the effort is the Bonney Lake Chamber of Commerce. Lora Butterfield, executive director of the chamber, is a planning team member. Butterfield said the chamber helps to attract vendors to the event, many of which are health-related, including dentists and chiropractors.

“I enjoy hearing about the excitement that the kids have had with the activities that are available there,” Butterfield said.

Willson said the day will include demonstrations, including Zumba, martial arts, the jump rope team from Liberty Ridge Elementary School and boat safety. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department also will be present.

The event started in spring 2012 as part of the community partnership component to a $1.2 million grant from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program. The school district received the grant in fall 2011 from the U.S. Department of Education.

The school district is in its third and final year of the grant cycle, which ends Sept. 30.

“The grant provides for improving physical education programs through curriculum, equipment and teacher professional development,” Willson said.

The grant funded 18 days of professional development training on a new fitness-based physical education curriculum called Five For Life. Teachers were taught different kinds of tag, relay and agility games.

Additionally, the grant provided Sumner and Bonney Lake high schools each $75,000 for cardio equipment in their fitness centers and added a nutrition education component to the districtwide curriculum. Middle schools also received money for a variety of fitness equipment.

Willson said the school district applied for the grant in response to an increase in rates of childhood obesity.

“We did not have the right tools in our tool box that addressed the needs,” Willson explained. “We’ve shifted the (curriculum) model from sports-based to fitness-based.”

Willson said the expected outcome is that students will learn enough from the curriculum to help them sustain a healthy life after graduating from the Sumner School District.

Willson said the school district would like to sustain Family Fitness Fest for years to come.

“We would like to continue it and grow it,” he said.

Another element that was born out of the grant was the creation of the school health advisory board, which meets monthly and evaluates how district programs are doing in providing services to students and families.

“We have to wait two years before we reapply for the grant,” Willson said.

It’s his hope that the Family Fitness Fest and the advisory board will be an integral part of the sustainability plan.

if you go

The Family Fitness Fest will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 3 in the Bonney Lake High School commons and gymnasium, 10920 199th Ave. Court E. For more information, call Loren Willson at 253-891-6078.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes Twitter: @herald_andrew

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