Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day brings 700 fourth graders to UNK campus

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Jackson Dunham, left, and Kelsey Hatcher, right, fourth-grade student at Kearney’s Windy Hills Elementary, participate in Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition day at UNK Friday. The annual event focuses on physical fitness and nutrition, drawing more than 700 students from 10 central Nebraska schools. (Photo by Corbey R. Dorsey/UNK Communications)

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – More than 700 fourth graders from six Nebraska counties attended the 13th annual Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Friday (Sept. 16).

Students were divided into two groups – one focusing on physical fitness and the other on nutrition. After lunch, the groups switched.

Kids Fitness Day 4Among the physical activities were step aerobics, team-building exercises, activities with members of the UNK baseball team, an obstacle course and the parachute. Nutrition stations taught students about energy balance, making healthy snacks, label logic, portion distortion, MyPlate and the importance of food safety and hand washing.

“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, Kinesiology and Sport Sciences professor. “We are dedicated to providing support to help schools achieve their school wellness goals.”

Fourth-grade students came to UNK from Alma, Amherst, Elm Creek, Franklin, Gibbon, Holdrege, Kearney, Overton, Pleasanton and Shelton.

More than 170 UNK students, faculty and staff from the College of Education worked with the students.

Nebraska Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day, which was created and developed by Heelan and Kaiti George, the HyVee Dietitian, is funded by the Nebraska Beef Council. The program is packaged into a standard curriculum, which other communities are now using.

This year five other communities will host the event for fourth-grade students, including events in Hastings, McCook, Ogallala, Chadron, Sidney and Alliance. Over 2,400 fourth-grade students are impacted from the event.

“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,” Heelan said.


Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529,
Source: Kate Heelan, 308.746.8180,

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