Fitness, nutrition day helping schools achieve wellness goals

Source: Kate Heelan, 308.865.8180,
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529,

KEARNEY – The 10th annual Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day will bring more than 750 fourth graders from six Nebraska counties to the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Friday (Sept. 13).

Activities are from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Foster Field, Cushing Coliseum and the Health and Sports Center. Students will be divided into two groups, with one focusing on physical activities and the second working its way through nutrition stations. After lunch, groups switch activities for the afternoon.

Among the physical activities planned are step aerobics, team building, participating with members of the UNK baseball team, obstacle courses and the parachute. Meanwhile, nutrition stations will teach youth about energy balance, making healthy snacks, label logic, portion distortion, MyPlate 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,” said Kate Heelan, event co-founder and director of the UNK Human Performance Laboratory. “We are dedicated to providing support to help schools achieve their school wellness goals.”

Students from Alma, Amherst, Elm Creek, Franklin, Gibbon, Holdrege, Kearney, Overton and Shelton are attending the vent. Working with the students will be more than 190 UNK students and faculty and staff from the College of Education.

Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day was created and developed by Heelan and Kaiti Roeder, director of nutrition education for the Nebraska Beef Council. It is funded by the Nebraska Beef Council. The program has 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 students to interact with college students, staff and faculty to learn the importance of energy balance in a supportive, exciting environment,” Heelan said.

In 2013, five other communities – Hastings, McCook, Sidney, Chadron and Alliance – will host the event for fourth-grade students.