First ‘Healthy Communities Challenge Day’ draws thousands

MARYSVILLE — The first-ever “Healthy Communities Challenge Day” in the city of Marysville yielded a “conservatively estimated” turnout of 3,000 attendees throughout the day June 6, according to city of Marysville Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew.

Ballew explained that the event, which took place at Allen Creek Elementary, was a partnership between the city, which invited 48 vendors, and Get Movin’, which registered more than 1,000 children for the event, a Snohomish County-wide record for their organization.

“The idea behind today is to give people an opportunity to look at what’s available to help them — during the summer and perhaps the rest of the year — become more active, reduce their chances of obesity, get fit with their families, and keep them involved in their communities,” Ballew said. “I’m very proud that they took advantage of a great day.”

Kit Blue, a physical therapist with Summit Rehabilitation in Smokey Point, not only answered attendees’ questions about exercise and athletic injuries, but also helped them test out a set of playground equipment that the city of Marysville Parks and Recreation Department plans on installing in a community park.

“We’re getting feedback from people here,” Blue said. “It’s the first chance we’ve had to see this equipment live, and we’re kind of playing around with it, seeing what drawbacks there may be, what’s good about it, what might be bad about it. The biggest thing, though, is that the kids love it. Anything that gets kids active and exercising, and having fun at the same time, is great.”

Marysville School District Athletic Director Greg Erickson couldn’t agree more, which was why he was showing off some of the new features of the MSD health and fitness curricula, courtesy of a three-year grant, received last year, in excess of $800,000. The grant has been focused on connecting the fitness curricula for grades K-12.

“That means we’re all talking the same language and teaching the same testing techniques,” Erickson said. “We’re using fitness to teach health and nutrition, and training our teachers. We’re all very excited. The staff has embraced it, the kids are embracing it, and I think this is just going to be an excellent opportunity to promote fitness throughout the community.”

Erickson sees the new curricula as a natural partnership between the city and school district of Marysville, as well as with the efforts of the Marysville YMCA and the Healthy Communities initiative.

Wendy Clark was one of a number of members of the Lake Stevens-based North Cascades Crew who were on hand for the Healthy Communities Challenge Day, hoping to help attendees get fit by getting them into rowing. Clark touted both the masters adult rowing program and the junior rowing program that the crew has available this summer, and even showed off a rowing shell, with oars, and an ergometer, which is a stationary rowing machine.

Master Gardener Ciscoe Morris was also on hand to promote health in his own way, by touting a cause he’s pleased to see a resurgence of interest in.

“What I’m trying to do is get young people, and older young people, including seniors, excited about growing their own food again,” Morris said. “For years, nobody cared about it, and when I tried to talk about it, they’d be like, ‘No, talk about growing flowers instead.’ All of a sudden, though, probably because of the economy, people are getting excited about growing food. It’s a healthy activity, it’s fun, and you get food that tastes so good.”

Lia Blanchard, who attended the Healthy Communities Challenge Day with her three sons, appreciated the gardening tips, since she’s trying to get a garden of her own started. While her kids played on the playground equipment and in the bouncy house, she reviewed her copy of the Get Movin’ guide, which lists a number of different ways for families to improve their health and fitness all year long.

“There’s a lot of coupons in here, for things like skating and swimming,” Blanchard said. “I’m so excited to see Marysville getting active and staying active, because it is a problem, and it’s great that the city is going to such lengths to get involved.”

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