Drizzle, fog, and crisp fall weather greeted participants of our POWER UP! Boot Camp on Saturday, October 15, but that didn’t dampen their spirits. Produced in partnership with the Chicago Park District and their Wellness Staff, we hosted the day-long event for children ages 6-12 at West Lawn Park (4233 W. 65th Street) with indoor and outdoor activities to teach youth about the importance of regular exercise and proper nutrition. Among the activities were yoga, an obstacle course, aerobics, and kickboxing as well as learning how to read packaged goods labels, how calories get burned, how to make proper food choices at a fast food restaurant, and much, much more. Throughout the six-hour program, we challenged kids physically and mentally, while encouraging them to think more critically about the choices they make in regard to their health.
This year we had 152 participants join us for a day of education and fun. The spike in attendance this year is largely thanks to the hard work of Sandra Ramirez, Lead Bilingual Teacher at Peck Elementary School. After her children attended the Boot Camp in 2015, Ramirez wanted to get families in her area more involved in the choices their children are making regarding their health. Ramirez did a lot of community outreach prior to our Boot Camp and was able to attract a number of families from Peck Elementary.
As a part of the camp, the participants took a pre and post Boot Camp exam to measure what they learned. At the end of the day, all of the participants walked away with a fitness/nutrition bag filled with all sorts of good stuff such as a pedometer, Frisbee, jump rope, water bottle, and healthy snacks. We hope our fitness packs encourage the youth to take an interest in their mental and physical health because being healthy is a lifestyle that is determined by the choices they make long after our POWER UP! Boot Camp is over.
To help ensure the long-term success of the program, a new component was added to the program this year. Parents were informed of the importance of reinforcing what their children learned and how setting a good example is the best method to encourage their children to be active and eat right.
Special thanks to Professor Abel Galvan and all the University of Illinois Chicago students who spent their Saturday volunteering with us.
The Boot Camp would not have happened without the support of our major sponsor MoneyGram as well as in-kind donations from Kits for Kidz, Republic Bank, Chipotle Mexican Grill, KIND Health Snacks, Skinny Pop, and Gogo SqueeZ.