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Kids learn healthy fun - Monroe News Star

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Kids learn healthy fun - Monroe News Star
Apr 15th 2012, 06:23

An inflatable obstacle course and hula hoops were put to good use Saturday at Kiroli Park, all in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles for children.

Kiroli hosted the YMCA's Eighth Annual Healthy Kids Day. Among the activities on hand for children and families were Zumba for Kids, the Annual Bike Rodeo and games in the Healthy Kids- Zone. A Healthy Snack Station also was part of the festivities. To start the events, organizers planned a Family Fun walk around the park, which took advantage of the park's numerous walking trails.

Chris Pealer, executive director of YMCA of Northeast Louisiana, which sponsored the event, said Saturday's activities were among the goals in the organization's mission.

"Part of what we do is promote healthy living," Pealer said. "We want people to understand having fun and getting fit are not mutually exclusive."

Pealer said getting kids to spend time outdoors goes a long way toward getting them active.

Jeff Laudenheimer, a member of YMCA's board, said events like Saturday's serve a great purpose.

"It's just a great way to get the kids out of the house and off the PlayStation or Nintendo," Laudenheimer said. "Everybody's just promoting eating healthy snacks and food. We just want them to get out and exercise a little bit."

Laudenheimer said the day had been going pretty well and admitted the weather could not have been more cooperative.

"It's a beautiful day," Laudenheimer said. "The kids are having a great time. There's a decent breeze, so it's not too hot out."

One of the events was a hula hoop contest, where groups of five kids tried to see who could keep their hoops up the longest. The winners out of the various groups would move on in the "playoffs" and face each other.

The city of West Monroe provided a stage wherer dance teams from local schools entertained the crowd.

Officials from the LSU Ag Center, D.A.R.E. program, Knuckleheads Gym and the United Way of Northeast Louisiana were on hand to teach the kids about healthy living.

Christy Francis, an employee at the park, was minding a table covered with maps of Kiroli and Restoration parks and bags of pumpkin seeds and other foods to grow. She was also instructing the kids about how to use mint to give flavor to water, but not calories.

"We had the mint water," Francis said. "If you add mint to water, and let it sit overnight, it gives it a good flavor and you don't have to add sugar or preservatives or anything else. It kind of makes it fun to drink."

Pealer said he was grateful for the turnout and appreciated the vendors who attended. He said holding the event at Kiroli was a blast and hoped to return to the park next year.

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