Eleven-year-old Kayleigh Cornell whaled away on the punching bag, jabbing at it for all she was worth, while her mom shouted encouragement.
“It’s just like Wii, only in real life,” said her mom, Caroline Cornell, of Centennial.
The Cornells were among hundreds of families who turned out Saturday for the Family Wellness Summit at Grandview High School in Centennial, part of the Cherry Creek School District .
Jointly sponsored by the school district and the Community Asset Project, the summit featured more than 60 vendor booths offering everything from blood pressure and Body Mass Index checks to injury evaluations to iris scans. In the school’s two gyms, youngsters could try out snowshoes, taekwondo, hula hoops, jump ropes, exercise balls and a range of other movement activities – including boxing.
In the Environmental Wellness area, there were displays about the best green cleaning products, an interactive obstacles course to help families develop an emergency exit plan from their home, and a display of carbon monoxide detectors. In the Nutrition Wellness area, a chef was demonstrating healthy cooking on a budget. In the Psychological Wellness area, families were striking yoga poses together and while parents pondered the mysteries of the teen-age brain.
Elsewhere, organizers were giving away pedometers, cutting boards, fitness balls, massages, and even a few iPods and a mountain bike – all in the name of promoting more physical fitness.
“The key component is that this is all hands-on, interactive, touch, do, feel, hold, try and learn,” said Lori Wager, coordinator of the event. “It’s not your typical conference where you go and get a bag and collect a bunch of papers. Everyone has the option of doing a hands-on piece.”
The free summit, which ran from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is an outgrowth of the school district’s new emphasis on wellness, specifically its new comprehensive wellness strategy to improve the physical, psychological, nutritional and environmental health and fitness of all students, staff and families in the district. It’s also an expansion of the popular Youth Adult Summit, which the Community Asset Project has sponsored for the past 10 years, focusing on teens and making smart choices.
“The Community Asset Project went to Cherry Creek and said ‘What’s next? Let’s grow this,” Wager said. “And the district came back to us with its wellness initiative and the Wellness Summit idea.”
So the the Community Asset Project and the school district partnered with Kaiser Permanente, Parker Adventist Hospital, Juice Plus, Cheley Colorado Camps and others to create the massive event.
Participants on Saturday seemed surprised by just how much fun they were having.
“My wife dragged me here,” admitted Mike Berg, 41, of Aurora. “Our son Colin is really enjoying himself. We came for an hour, and that was three hours ago.”
While Colin, 6, burned up energy in the jump rope section of the gym, Berg got his Body Mass Index measured and discovered his number wasn’t as bad as he’d feared.
Outside the main gym, a line had formed around the Sport and Spine exhibit. Sport and Spine is a company that provides physical therapy in Centennial. “We’ve gone through a lot of people, done a lot of injury evaluations,” said Andy Fishering, business manager. “If you have something you want us to look at, we will, and we’ll suggest ways you can get back to health.”
Down the hall, Overland High School anatomy teacher Deb Carnevale was having uncommon success in getting children to scrub their hands thoroughly, not just give them a quick rinse. Her secret: a black light and a substance called “germ-glow.”
“See, you’ve got to really scrub under your fingernails,” Carnevale told 9-year-old Zach Cubrera, who held his newly-washed hands under the light only to see the telltale glow of normally-invisible bacteria left behind.
His mom, Betsy Cubrera, of Aurora, was triumphant. “I’m a nurse!” she said. “But they won’t listen to me. It’s good for them to hear it from someone else.”