Healthy Communities Challenge Day treats locals to activities, information in summer sun

MARYSVILLE — Local families looking to adopt healthier lifestyles were able to learn and stay active in the summer sun without even a cloud in the sky this year.

The annual Healthy Communities Challenge Day returned to the fields of Allen Creek Elementary on June 10, drawing an estimated 3,000 attendees and registering 764 people for the Get Movin' summer fitness incentive program. City of Marysville Recreation Coordinator Andrea Kingsford noted that this was about the same size as last year's crowd, and that they were able to visit close to 75 exhibitors on site this year.

"It felt like the true start to summer, with people rock-climbing, throwing Frisbees, hula-hooping, testing their fitness levels, learning about nutrition, planting strawberry starts and seeds, trying out an erg machine, learning about helmet safety and discovering the Marysville community," Kingsford said. "On the stage, we had a number of fitness and dance demos, including Zumba, which filled the dance area with people getting fit and having fun."

This year's Healthy Communities Challenge Day was staged by the Marysville Community Coalition, a partnership of local and regional organizations including the city of Marysville, YMCA of Snohomish County, the Marysville School District, Sno-Isle Libraries, United Way, the Salvation Army and a number of faith-based groups. Among this year's features were the Everett Silvertips and their mascot Lincoln, a Frisbee giveaway, free books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, child ID kits, and performances by Ian Dobson Pan Leggo and the Grove Street Library Band.

Marysville's Jaden Goshorn, 6, loved the North Cascade Crew's rowing machines so much that he didn't want to stop working out on them, even after his dad Mark tried to get him to check out some of the event's other activities.

"It's great that our kids can just goof off here, especially on a nice sunny day like this," Mark Goshorn said. "We lucked out."

Arlington's Wyatt Brickey, 9, has been taking classes at the Pilchuck Dance Academy since he was 4 years old, so when they brought their padded mats out to Allen Creek Elementary for Healthy Communities Challenge Day, he was anxious to show off his skills to roving reporters and anyone else who happened to wander past.

"That was a back-tuck, but I guess you could call it a back-flip," he said, after leaping into the air and doing a backwards somersault before landing on the ground.

Michael Abraham, 11, was likewise willing to show off what he'd learned from seven years of training at Marysville's Rising Stars Gymnastics.

"At first, I wanted to do it because it looked really fun," said Abraham, who placed third at his first state gymnastic competition this year. "Handstands are easiest for me, but I can do aerial cartwheels too. Other people should try gymnastics, because it's really good exercise."

The Marysville Care Center showed that fitness can transcend generations, as youngsters including Gunnar Wehe, 10, and Jaron Noble, 11, tested out the Wii Fit games that the center's elderly patients use to stay in shape.

"We incorporate the Wii into our physical therapy," said John Hovey, marketing director for the Marysville Care Center. "It lets us offer a different kind of exercise to our seniors, and as you can see, it's fun for all ages."

As first-time Healthy Communities Challenge Day attendees Kjell Anderson, 7, and Desmond Curtis, 6, broke wooden boards courtesy of Marysville's Kung Fu 4 Kids, Kjell's father Carl appreciated the opportunity to familiarize himself with the activities that are available to his family locally, as did Marysville mom and fellow first-time attendee Amalia Dawson.

"My two kids have been so excited that they've been asking about this for weeks," Dawson said of her son Sterling, 9, and her daughter Madison, 8. "Meanwhile, I've gotten a lot of information on kids' programs in the community. It's awesome."

"We're fortunate in Marysville to have events such as Healthy Communities Challenge Day, where people can come out to discover and explore the benefits of healthy living," Kingsford said.

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