Tuesday, 20 December 2011 11:47

Christmas party supports fitness pledge challenge for Swift Current

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By Matthew Liebenberg — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It was a Christmas party like no other with young partygoers dancing, hopping on one foot, leapfrogging and running ball relays.

The Bodyfit Youth Fitness Christmas party Dec. 15 in the Swift Current Mall gave children between the ages of six and 14 an opportunity to be active and have fun at the same time. The event, which was attended by around 60 children, was presented by Bodyfit in conjunction with the City of Swift Current and the In Motion Committee in support of the Community Pledge Challenge.

Raeanne Woycenko, who is a Bodyfit partner and director of operations, said the In Motion Community Pledge Challenge is a worthwhile cause, especially with so much concern over childhood obesity.

“That’s really the reason we decided to do it,” she said. “To try to get the kids out and having fun and see that fitness and fun can go hand in hand. It doesn’t necessarily mean tough work all the time, it can be enjoyable as well.”

Val Choo-Foo, who is the In Motion community facilitator for Swift Current, was thrilled with the good turnout at the event.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “We had sent notes home with 1,600 kids from kindergarten to Grade 8 ... but 60 kids were great. I thought that was a wonderful number for our very first time of running it.”

She had an opportunity to talk to the children about the benefit of exercise and the In Motion Community Pledge Challenge during a snack break. Choo-Foo said she wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes an annual event.

“We were already talking about changes and things we could do,” she mentioned. “I know Bodyfit was thrilled with it and so were we from the City In Motion. It was a great opportunity where parents could finish up Christmas shopping, the kids were having fun, I think it worked really well.”

The need to ensure children get enough exercise has become a pressing issue. Less than 15 per cent of children in Saskatchewan get the 60 minutes of physical activity they need every day.

That was the motivation behind the In Motion Community Pledge Challenge. It is asking individuals and families in Saskatchewan to pledge to do just one thing to make physical activity an easy choice for children. It can be basic activities such as walking children to school, being an active role model or reducing time in front of a television or computer.

The community with the highest number of pledges by Dec. 30 stands a chance to win $10,000 for a community project which helps children to move more.

A total of 23 communities registered for the challenge and earlier this week Swift Current was in third spot with 378 pledges, with Strasbourg in second spot with 382 pledges and Unity leading with 537.

Choo-Foo was hoping a few more residents will make earlier New Year’s pledges to help Swift Current move up to the top spot.

“I know people are busy with their Christmas activities, but hopefully we can have a little push at the very end,” she said. “It would be wonderful if we can get enough pledges so that we end in first place, but Unity has been very strong from the very beginning. So we’ll have to wait and see.”

After the closing date a panel of judges will determine the top five finalists in the province. Their decision will be based on the number of pledges in each community as well as the strength and creativity of each community’s proposal on what it will be doing with the $10,000 to promote physical activity of children.

Even though Swift Current might still reach the top five as a result of a strong submission, the best way to do it is simply by getting the highest number of pledges. During the final part of the competition there will be online voting from Jan. 17 to 29.

“That’s not a pledge,” she explained. “That’s just every day you can vote for your community and whichever community gets the most votes will be the winning community for $10,000.”

Choo-Foo said the competition already made a difference to make people more aware about the importance of physical activity.

“I’m thrilled with the way the community has responded to become more aware of In Motion,” she said. “The people are starting to talk about In Motion and to really think about things they can do in their lives to be healthier too.”

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