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Published: 9/27/2006

Game On provides a strategy for healthy living by students

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hal Austin, 12, of Walbridge, does sit-ups as part of his trek through an obstacle course at Lake Middle School's wellness event. Hal Austin, 12, of Walbridge, does sit-ups as part of his trek through an obstacle course at Lake Middle School's wellness event.
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Jeff Wilson took the snap, dropped back, and scanned the defense.

He saw a receiver open down the field, so the 10-year-old from Stony Ridge did what any NFL-bound quarterback would do.

He yelled, "Cheese!"

Jeff was one of about 30 Lake Local Schools students who participated in Game On - The Ultimate Wellness Challenge, a nationwide wellness event held at Loop Park in Walbridge last Sunday.

Fifteen adults, including Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski and school board member Ken Smith, took part in the district-sponsored festivities promoting exercise and eating healthy to middle school students.

Adrianne Gurney, a school nurse who co-hosted the event with Director of Dining Services Julie Kalisik, said they didn't have quite enough middle schoolers sign up, so they opened enrollment to students of any age.

The young Wilson with ched-dar on his mind was participating in a pass-only football game in which the quarterback had to yell out a healthy snack before throwing the ball.

Surely he was thinking of cheese made with skim milk.

"For some reason, that was the food group I had in mind when I was throwing," Jeff said. "It was a fun day. We learned we need to stay fit so we don't get fat."

Football was one of five games included in the event.

There were two relay races, a round of tag, and an obstacle course.

Only the obstacle course wasn't tied to a health-food theme.

Ms. Kalisik said she and Ms. Gurney wanted to use the event to promote the school district's wellness program, part of which focuses on eating right, learning about fitness, and living healthy.

"This fit in perfectly with our wellness policy," she said. "This was a chance to teach kids about eating and living well, and it came at no cost to the district."

Game On is sponsored nationally by a nonprofit organization called Action for Healthy Kids, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Football League.

Ms. Kalisik said Lake Schools was one of the first 100 school districts in the nation host Game On.

By holding the event before Oct. 1, Ms. Kalisik said the district was eligible to receive a grant of between $1,000 and $3,000 for its own wellness program.

Ms. Gurney said they were looking forward to holding similar events in the future. She said they didn't have quite the numbers they hoped for, but still considered Sunday a success.

"You probably couldn't tell by the numbers, but it was a good day," Ms. Gurney said. "The kids had fun, and we tried hard to put together a meaningful event program for them."

Ms. Kalisik added: "I hope that the kids go back to school and tell their friends what we did here and how much fun they had."

Contact Joe Vardon

at: jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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