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Community wellness campaign kicks off with fitFest in Wichita

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, June 22, 2013, at 2:28 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 22, 2013, at 10:48 p.m.

Christine Jonker’s family is no stranger to the outdoors, so the Wichita mother wasn’t surprised to see her little boys having a good time Saturday morning at fitFest in Sedgwick County Park.

“We like to get out and do active stuff,” she said. “We’re a physical family, and we like to ride bikes. We try to really stay active. We do lots of swimming, biking and walking. We really focus on that a lot.”

The Health & Wellness Coalition of Wichita, with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marked the launch of a community wellness campaign Saturday morning with fitFest, a free community event at 21st and Ridge. Included were a series of unique fitness stations, gardening and cooking demonstrations. There were chair exercises, a vacuuming demonstration, a simple obstacle course and an inflatable obstacle course.

The festival is part of the group’s 15-month “fitWichita” campaign, including a series of billboards, bus signs, website ads and Facebook and Twitter presence. The campaign also has a website, FindYourFitWichita.com.

“It’s all about making sure we have a healthy and active eating lifestyle in Wichita,” said Mim McKenzie, who chairs the Health & Wellness Coalition.

For a decade, the coalition has promoted fitness and healthy eating in Wichita. The project title, fit, is an acronym. The f stands for fitness, movement when you could be motionless. The i stands for inspiration, since people need a boost of motivation. The t stands for taste, since flavor in food doesn’t have to be sacrificed for health.

“We would love to see up to 500 people come through and get the message about living a fit and healthy lifestyle,” McKenzie said.

Jonker wasn’t the only adult who brought kids to wade through the fitness stations and food.

“The attraction is the kids enjoy the fitness aspect, along with winning a prize in the competition aspect,” said Laura Rosenbaum, who brought her children over from the farmers market at the Sedgwick County Extension Education Center. “It’s a perfect fit with the farmers market, and there’s a lot of families there so it works out really well.”

Like Jonker, Rosenbaum said she wants her kids to adopt a fit, healthy lifestyle.

“The extension council does a lot of things with fitness, and it’s a fun way to look at fitness. I don’t think my kids have ever thought of vacuuming as fitness,” she said.

Matt Yearout brought his 3-year-old daughter Presley out to enjoy the outdoors.

“We’re always looking for an outdoor activity,” he said. “Outside is a big deal. She loves it. All day long.”

Presley took on the hula hoops, and ate a banana, before setting her sights on the inflatables.

“I want her to get interaction, and being around other kids outside,” he said. “Three-year-olds, as busy as they are, the more activities you can find, the better off everyone is.”

Jonker agreed, saying the community-wide effort is overdue.

“It’s great,” she said. “It’s something we don’t normally do. It’s nice as a fun, active thing.”

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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