More than 200 pre-kindergarten athletes, representing Fort Belvoir's four Child Development Centers, competed in the 2013 Pre-K Olympic Games Friday at Pullen Field.
The event, hosted by Child, Youth and School Services, and coordinated by Julie Libert, CYSS youth sports and fitness assistant director, provided the youngest members of the Belvoir community the opportunity to compete in a variety of track and field events, including shot put, javelin throw, long jump, hurdles and distance runs.
According to Jerry Arrington, CYSS sports and fitness director, the Pre-K Olympics represents the garrison's continued effort to promote fitness and healthy lifestyles to children early on.
"This is the other part of our (athletic) program here -- the fitness side where we're trying to get these kids started with fitness at 3 to 5 years old," he said. "About every six months we try to do some type of Olympics-style event for that age group. We're trying to plant that seed so, as they grow older, they'll stay into physical fitness."
Arrington added that the Olympic Games competition is one of several CYSS events designed each year to increase awareness of the benefits of physical fitness and its importance in combating pervasive health conditions such as childhood obesity.
"The Play 60 event we did with the Washington Redskins last week is another example of this side of the program," he said. "That's a four-week program during which the athletes track their activities. Julie (Libert) does a tremendous job with this program. She works with these kids in the centers all year, with activities like a fitness boot camp, the Start Smart program and a lot of others things. And it looks like the efforts are working."
An important aspect of Friday's Pre-K Olympics was the opportunity the event provided the athletes to represent their own CDCs. Each child development center created banners for the opening parade and each group wore special handmade jerseys to represent their centers with pride.
"Every CDC on post has a team competing in the event -- the North Post CDC, the South Post CDC, the Markham School Age Center and the new JoAnn Blanks CDC," said Aricka Vaughan, CYSS youth sports specialist.
The athletes, coaches, teachers and volunteers began the event with a parade led by torch bearer Zoey Miller, 4, representing the Markham School Age Center. The participants marched around Pullen Track from the staging area to the main grand stands to prepare for the opening events -- the turbo javelin and shot put.
Throughout the morning, athletes took to the track and field with determination and a commitment to excellence, giving it their best efforts across the spectrum of athletic competitions. Hundreds of parents and Family members filled the stands and lined the track, cheering for their young Olympians. Servicemembers representing the Air Force and Navy manned some of the competition stations and helped the athletes out with tips and advice. CYSS volunteers also provided rest areas, water and healthy snacks during the day.
For more information regarding special CYSS youth athletic programs and events, contact Libert at (703) 805-9138 or Arrington at (703) 805-9139.