By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 22, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 22, 2013) -- It can be tough to combine fun with fitness when it comes to being healthy and staying fit, but Fort Rucker found a way to keep the attention of its youth while educating them on why it's important to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Fort Rucker Child, Youth and School Services held its Youth Health and Nutrition Fair April 10 where children had the opportunity to learn about eating healthy, as well as have their eyes, ears and overall physical fitness checked, according to Sharlene Phillips, sports specialist and event coordinator.
"It's the Month of the Military Child and we always hold this event in April so that we can get the children together," she said. "During the event, they had the opportunity to get their weight, height, blood pressure, eyes and ears checked."
There were as many as 15 tables set up with different vendors to educate the children on physical health, nutrition facts, fire safety and even dental hygiene. McGruff, the crime dog, was even on-hand to talk to children about interacting with strangers and what to do in case of an emergency.
Phillips said it's a good way for parents, who might not have a lot of time, to get a preliminary checkup on their children to make sure they are in tip-top shape.
"The way the environment is on a [military installation], everybody is busy, busy, busy," she said. "With this event, we can take care of [a number of children] all in one day at least once a year, and depending on the results, the parents can even see what their children might need in terms of health care."
Karen Prather, military spouse, said she attended the fair with her children, Sarah and Aidan, to do just that, as well as educate her children on why it's important to stay healthy.
"It gave [my children] a great opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves," she said. "I love that Fort Rucker has programs like this because it gives us all of this material that we can look at and discuss with our children."
"It's important to learn about this stuff because it's your body and you need to take care of your body and keep it healthy," said Sarah. "That's why we wanted to come out, to learn more about nutrition and how to take care of yourself."
As beneficial as the youth fair was for the children, Leroy Minus, assistant youth sports director, said it was equally beneficial for the parents in that it showcased a lot of the different programs that were available for their youth in one place.
"We invite all the people [on post] that have anything to do with fitness, awareness and safety, and we ask them to come here and educate the children on the different programs that are available to them on Fort Rucker," he said. "Although it's educational for them, we wanted it to be fun for them as well."
The fun side came in the form of free goodies that the children were able to take home -- fire hats, bracelets and coupon books -- as well as a "Harlem Shake" event that all of the children and even adults were able to take part in.
Although the fair focused on youth health, it was also a good opportunity for children to be exposed to the new youth center, as well as the different youth sports that are offered on Fort Rucker.
"This fair was put together to expose the [children] to everything," said Minus. "This gives the kids the opportunity to get exposed to youth sports and possibly find an interest in something they haven't tried before. We just want them to see the diversity that is offered here."