Healthy Communities Challenge Day returns to Marysville with strong turnout

MARYSVILLE — The second annual Healthy Communities Challenge Day drew more than 3,000 attendees throughout the day June 5, at least equaling its total from last year.

According to city of Marysville Recreation Coordinator Andrea Kingsford, Get Movin' registered more than 1,100 children for the event, topping the organization's Snohomish County-wide record from last year's Healthy Communities Challenge Day, while city of Marysville Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew noted that this year's 80 vendors almost doubled the number who took part in the last year's Healthy Communities Challenge Day.

This year's Healthy Communities Challenge Day offered a variety of avenues for activity, from familiar childhood favorites such as rope jumping to relatively new options such as "pole fitness." Adison Pigg, 15, demonstrated a number of "vertical dance" gymnastic moves on a portable metal pole at the Allen Creek Elementary campus, on behalf of Pink Ladies from Snohomish. The Pink Ladies visited Marysville to show how pole fitness can provide core, upper body and strength workouts, while Rene Bibaud and Nakean Wickliff of the Seattle-based Ropeworks showed off their skills and encouraged their audience to join in for rounds of Double Dutch.

"As much as we try to instill the fun of fitness, we also want kids to find things they enjoy and try their best," said Bibaud, a world rope jumping champion and Cirque Du Soleil artist. "This Healthy Communities Challenge Day is really well done. It focuses on making health and fitness part of people's daily lives."

The day also included information on maintaining healthy lifestyles, with Peter Costa of Senior Services of Snohomish County speaking to an older audience about topics such as daily exercises to main balance and common home safety hazards to check for. At the same time, licensed massage therapist Jennifer Richards of Life Impact in Marysville explained the health benefits of massage therapy, such as relieving the pain of tight muscles, reducing stress and tension, increasing circulation and flexibility, and boosting the immune system.

While Jaylon Nelson Sellers of Quil Ceda Elementary hula hooped up a storm, his mother staffed a booth for Naval Station Everett that addressed healthy meal choices, preventive dental care and tobacco cessation. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Keashia Garner is a corpsman stationed on board the USS Abraham Lincoln who's been active-duty for the past 18 years.

"Our interactive displays let kids pick out examples of vegetables, grains, fruits and starches to make their own recipes," Garner said.

As Marysville's Landon O'Neal scaled a fabricated rock climbing tower, his mom Colleen gushed over their first time at Healthy Communities Challenge Day.

"It's been pretty cool," Colleen O'Neal said, as Landon grabbed handholds while wearing a rope harness. "He's been waiting so patiently to see how high he can climb. The sun finally coming out today has been a plus. I love the exercise element of it, and how it offers the kids safe challenges. It's more than I expected. It's motivated me to start doing more things as a family. We signed up for Get Movin', and these activities are great for all my kids, from ages 5 to 21."

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