Nebraska Kids Fitness & Nutrition Day; More than 600 Fourth Graders from 18 Elementary Schools are Participating

Dr. Kate Heelan
Building Healthy Families program co-director

UNK- The sixth annual Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day is taking place today at the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus.

More than 600 fourth graders from 18 elementary schools are participating. The event has become so popular that more schools applied to participate than could be accommodated and a drawing was held to determine what schools could participate this year.

Activities began at 9 a.m. and are taking place until 2 p.m. at Cushing Coliseum and the Health and Sports Center on the campus. During the day, the students are divided into two groups with one group focusing on physical activities while the second group works its way through the nutrition stations, according to Dr. Kate Heelan, event cofounder. At noon, the two groups switched activities.

Among the physical activities planned are step aerobics, team-building, participating with members of the UNK baseball team, pedometer activities and the parachute. Meanwhile, nutrition stations will teach youth about energy balance, making healthy snacks, MyPyramid, and the importance of food safety and washing hands.

“The primary purpose of the event is to open the eyes of young people to the ways physical activity and nutrition work together to maintain health,” Dr. Heelan said, adding, “We are dedicated to providing support to help schools achieve their school wellness goals.”  
Working with the students will be UNK students, faculty and staff, many of whom are from the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Leisure Studies.

Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day, which was created and developed by Dr. Heelan and Kaiti Roeder, director of nutrition education for the Nebraska Beef Council, is funded by the Nebraska Beef Council. The program has now been packaged into a standard curriculum, which other communities are now using.

While the event is supported, in part, by a grant from the Nebraska Beef Council, additional support is provided by Two Rivers Public Health District and UNK.

“The goal is to provide a fun, inspiring day for fourth grade students to interact with college students, staff and faculty to learn about the importance of energy balance in a supportive, exciting environment,” Dr. Heelan concluded.

Elementary schools with youth participating include:

Alma Public Schools- Mike Brummer and Ben Ellis
Franklin Public Schools- Vickie Johnson, Dennis Johnson and Paul Nepodal
Gothenburg – Dudley Elementary- Becky Gibbens, Mary Meisinger and Claudine Kennicutt
Holdrege- All Saints Catholic School- Bridget Cerrousek and Kris Thorell
Holdrege Elementary- Carrie Veal, Brenda Alberts, Kara Taylor, Calena Ohlson, Kerry Waller and Amber Porter
Kearney Public Schools:
Bryant- Amanda Garringer and Becky Butts
Central Elementary- Troy Saulsbury, Caryn Saulsbury and Luke Garringer
Emerson Elementary- Peggy O’Dea, Chris Wies and Marylou Jasnoch
Glenwood Elementary- Kim Becker and Kevin Sullivan
Kenwood Elementary- Paula Rose, Lynn Lebsack and Karmen Grant
Meadowlark Elementary-         Suzanne Morgan, Dena Harshbarger and Mary Lou Jasnoch
Northeast Elementary- Kris Kampovitz, Brad Schwartz and Dennis Hartner
Park Elementary- Amanda Reinert, Lyle Garrelts and Karmen Grant
Windy Hills- Kristie Arnold and Jennifer Goff
Pleasanton Public Schools- Sheryl Lammers and Ricci Westland
Riverdale Elementary- Pat Neff and Jim Grove
Shelton Elementary- Shanna Bombeck, Rachelle Chamberlain, Amanda Thober and Matt Walter
Sumner-Eddyville-Miller Elementary- Laurie Smith and Scott Franzen