By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 13, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Sports is a way to get children active and healthy, but Fort Rucker wants to make sure it's not just catering to children's fitness needs, but to their wellbeing as a whole.
More than 500 parents and children made their way to the youth football fields during the Fort Rucker Child and Youth Services Health and Nutrition Fair April 6 to learn about healthy living at a young age, said Randy Tolison, Fort Rucker Youth Sports fitness director.
"We really had a great turnout and we were excited about it," he said. "We had a lot of new games that we put out there and I think the kids had a really good time. We had some really good vendors who set up and provided great information, so overall I thought this was a huge success."
Throughout the event, children and parents were able to speak with various health care professionals, including nurses and nutritionists from Lyster Army Health Clinic, to learn about healthy living habits, and one of the major differences about this year's fair was that it was the first time it was held outdoors, which Tolison said provided new opportunities.
"This is by far our largest event since I've been associated with it as far as numbers go," said the youth sports director. "This was the first time we held it outside, so that helped make it even bigger.
"What we have been doing in the past was just having vendors come in and give out their information, but we wanted to expand on that a little bit, and have some games and bring out the military police and fire department to get them involved, too," he said. "We just wanted to make it bigger and better."
Children were able to not only learn about health and fitness, but actually take part in some fitness-oriented games, such as tug-of-war and an obstacle course.
For many parents, the hands-on style of learning was just what their children needed to be able to get the message across.
"I think this is a great event and I feel like they did a really great job of capturing the kids' interest to teach them a few things about the importance of their own health," said Gwen Darby, military spouse. "It's always hard to get them interested in things like this, so to be able to have all the children here with their friends and family makes it that much easier. If they see that their friends are interested, or if their friends are here, too, it's something I think they'll grasp a little easier as opposed to trying to just talk to them about it on your own."
The children even got the opportunity to learn about basic wound care, which Darby said she found to be the most interesting part of the fair.
"I thought it was really interesting and helpful that they were able to help [dress wounds] on a dummy," she said. "There are lots of times when children are playing by themselves outdoors somewhere, so for them to learn some [basic wound care] I think is very important, so I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of detail they were able to learn here."
Fostering that level of learning is something that Tolison said was part of the goal of the fair -- to show that youth sports on Fort Rucker is there to help the children grow into well-rounded adults.
"We just want parents to know that we're not just all about the sports program, but that we're about the welfare of their child as a whole," he said. "We just hope that they can all see that there is more to our program than just sports, and we want them to know that we care for their child as a whole person.
"I just want to say, 'thank you' to all of the vendors who came out to support the program, and thanks to all the patrons who came out to make it such a huge success," he continued. "We always look forward to serving our Fort Rucker community and we are so appreciative of how they choose us to be a part of their family."