FLINT, Michigan -- Marquita Adams, founder of Harambee Wellness, had put on a family fitness event in September each of the last three years to promote health and wellness during September, which is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. This year, a partnership with Freeman Elementary’s Community Education Initiative helped provide even more opportunities for kids.
“In the past, I’ve done like a one-hour bring your child to work out event,” Adams said. “This year, the partnership with Freeman Elementary helped make it a four-hour day of activities with vendors providing demonstrations and health and fitness related items for children and families.”
The event was held at Berston Fieldhouse. Kids participated in a Zumba session with Briana Barnett, got to see and learn about animals from Shekina Lee from No 2 Stripes Alike, received boxes with games and activities courtesy of Communities First Inc., and families who haven’t completed the U.S. Census had the opportunity to do so.
Those increased opportunities are of particular importance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kids have had limited opportunities to participate in sports or outdoor programs because of cancelations, and Adams noted that statistics have shown increases in childhood obesity rates in Flint.
“Being out in the open here, you have the opportunity to be safe and social distance but also get out of the house,” Adams said.
Harambee Wellness has been a previous partner with Freeman Elementary’s Community Education program in the past, so they’re support of the event was a natural fit.
“Marquita provides a number of health classes and fitness classes for us,” said Jordan Munerlyn, Community School Director for Freeman’s Community Education Initiative. “It’s a really great partnership. The kids know her, the parents know her, so it works out really well.”
Parents also participated in fitness activities alongside their kids. Adams noted that children develop healthy habits by watching adults, so participation by parents and caregivers ios key to getting kids excited.
Munnerlyn noted that the pandemic has caused coordinators in the Community Education Program, which is run through the Crim Fitness Foundation, to have to get creative to ensure kids are still getting opportunities to move around and be healthy even while online learning.
“It’s really challenging, you have to think out of the box,” he said. “But we have a great collaboration with our principal and school, and we work as a family.”
More information about Harambee Wellness is available online.