By three o’clock on a Friday afternoon, most kids are ready to head home from school. But when the bell rang at Pine Ridge Elementary on Friday, Sept. 11, most of the school’s 820 students stayed on campus to warm up, work out, learn about healthy living and just have a good time. Many parents and siblings joined them.
It was all part of Pine Ridge’s “Fall into Heath!” fair. The school-sponsored, community-wide event kicked off with a free Zumba class led by instructor Mindy O’Brien, Miles the mascot for the Denver Broncos and Paws, the Pine Ridge panther mascot. Sporting t-shirts that said “Your workout is MY warm-up!” students moved and grooved in the bright fall sunshine.
Then it was time to tackle other fun fitness activities, including boxing, yoga and an obstacle course. There were dozens of booths where students and families could learn about important health and safety issues, ranging from hydration and nutrition to water safety and fire safety.
“One of the best booths for education was the Tri County Health Department smoking booth,” said Jessica Puga, the school nurse at Pine Ridge. “They had a set of healthy lungs and a set of lungs that showed the effects of smoking. It was great seeing all the kids interact with this booth. Tri County also sent out nurses to run an immunization information booth. Kids played a game that taught them about our immune system.”
Puga said the goal of the health fair was to increase awareness of health issues and resources and inspire students and families to make good choices.
“We wanted to empower kids to have the skills to make good choices,” Puga said. “Healthy kids learn better. When they’re in the classroom instead of the nurse’s office, I’ve done my job.”