Fort Sill kicks off Healthy Base Initiative with Operation Live Well Expo
August 2, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (Aug. 2, 2013) -- Fort Sill opened the Operation Live Well (OLW) Health Expo Aug. 1 on post with a ribbon cutting led by Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general. The ribbon cutting not only signified the start of the expo, but also the official opening of the Army Wellness Center here.
"Our new Army Wellness Center is now open for business. This is the 11th wellness center at stateside Army posts and eventually there will be 38 of them around the world, but we are getting in the program early," said McDonald.
The general thanked the crowd for coming to launch the OLW Health Expo.
"Health is important and as we change our lifestyles and we understand how to live a more healthy life, we will be a better society, we will be able to contribute more, we will be happier and we will have more fun. So I don't know why anybody wouldn't be healthy," McDonald said. "So take advantage of everything that we have got out here today. Everything is designed to increase your awareness of how to live a healthier lifestyle."
Lt. Col. Tony Behrens, FCoE and Fort Sill chief of operations, served as the master of ceremonies. He emphasized Fort Sill is playing a unique part in the Healthy Base Initiative (HBI) launched by the Department of Defense earlier this year.
"The DoD selected 13 pilot military installations for this program, and Fort Sill is one of only two Army posts chosen to participate in HBI," Behrens said. "We feel that with today's kickoff of Operation Live Well at Fort Sill, we can begin to educate Soldiers, their family members and DA civilians about the importance of making behavioral changes to improve the health and well being of the defense community."
After the opening ceremony, Claudia Mejia, Garrison fitness coordinator, got the crowd moving with a Zumbafest Latin dance performance, with music provided by the 77th U.S. Army Band's salsa band. Several hundred children, youth and adults got in motion as Mejia showed them how to exercise to the beat of the music.
"Everything is going great. It is absolutely amazing and we are very pleased with how things are going," said Capt. Jasmin Gregory, Reynolds Army Community Hospital Public Health nurse and one of the coordinators of the expo. "The Zumbafest kicked things off great and now the Army Wellness Center is officially open, so we couldn't ask for anything better."
One of the highlights of the Live Well Expo for children was the free National Basketball Association Fit Clinic, which drew about 150 boys and girls ages 6-18 to Rinehart Fitness Center.
"We took every kid who wanted to sign up so they could experience the fundamentals of basketball," said Becky Bonner, NBA Operations-International Program associate coordinator.
Children rotated through stations where they practiced shooting, dribbling and passing. To work on their fitness they also jumped rope, sprinted and performed push ups and sit ups, and finished off with a fun shoot.
At the hour-long clinic, Oklahoma City Thunder center Daniel Orton and former NBA star Micheal Ray Richardson gave pointers to the children, shouted words of encouragement and posed for photos with families.
Orton, who is from Oklahoma City, said working with the children at an Army post meant a lot to him and that it was fun.
"At their age staying healthy is incredibly important," Orton said. "I wanted the kids to learn drills that they could do with each other, and stay healthy, and get better at basketball."
Col. Glenn Waters, Fort Sill Garrison commander, was at the clinic mingling with children, parents and Soldiers.
The military lifestyle is challenging to children and the other family members because of its frequent moves and deployment of parents, he said.
"This is a great event to have them break down some of the barriers, and meet new people as they get ready for the school year, Waters said.
"Staying active and healthy is what today is all about!" Waters shouted, as he posed in a group photo with children at the end of the clinic.
Richardson also appeared at the GRTC at the NBA Legends table where expo-goers had the chance to get his autograph, and to meet a couple Thunder Girls cheerleaders. Richardson, a former New Jersey Nets player, appeared on behalf of NBA Cares -- a global outreach program that addresses important social issues, such as health and wellness.
As part of the OLW, the Lawton-Fort Sill community had the opportunity to donate blood in the afternoon at Rinehart Fitness Center.
"It was an extremely successful blood drive for us, and it came at a great time," said Jan Hale, Southwest Region American Red Cross communications manager, in Tulsa. "We've been on a national appeal for blood."
The Southwest Region American Red Cross sponsored the collaborative drive, and its collection techs came from Tulsa, Dallas and Lawton, to handle the large number donors. The drive collected about 200 units of blood, Hale said.
The expo offered many health-related activities and educational booths to promote living a healthy lifestyle. One of those was a farmer's market provided by the Fort Sill Commissary. Everything from watermelons, fresh fruits and vegetables was available.
Another popular event was the rock-climbing wall. Many Soldiers, as well as youth, put on the harness and scaled the 20-foot tower.
Mary Kate Stasevich was one of the brave ones who made it all the way to the top and rang the bell. She is the daughter of Lt. Col. Stephen Stasevich, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery. Her mother, Christen Stasevich, said the expo was a wonderful event for the Fort Sill community.
"We are having a great time," Christen said.
A very popular event that happened throughout the day was the Functional Fitness Challenge for kids. This event was held in the gym at the GRTC and provided physical and motor-control challenges for children.
Rachel Gray, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Jevone Gray, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, brought their sons Dominic and Sebastien to go through the course.
"My son Dominic participated in the NBA camp today. We had a wonderful time there so we decided to come over here and see what was going on," Gray said, adding, "The expo is really great."
Fort Sill developed the Operation Live Well campaign to address significant health issues in the community - better nutritional choices, increased physical activity, reduced tobacco usage and combating diseases related to obesity.
These efforts are not new programs, but a coordinated, yearlong plan to use the facilities and resources the post already has, to combat to these health issues. By focusing efforts under one umbrella, everyone can work to make Fort Sill a healthy place.
"From active duty and Reserve service members to military children, spouses, retirees and military civilians, OLW at Fort Sill will help the military community model healthy behaviors for the nation. We are proud and excited to be on the cutting edge of this effort," Behrens said.