The summit attracted about 150 participants, ranging in ages from 5 to 12 years old, said Carol Bush, director of the Wiggins Community Center. Bush said the good participation might lead to making the event an annual one.
“I think it’s quite successful,” she said. “We see smiling faces — that determines success.”
Fred Smith, director for JSU Wellness-Anniston, said the organization is pleased to have the opportunity for the program. “It’s providing education, it’s providing empowerment and it’s addressing the issue of childhood obesity,” he said.
Smith said the event was funded in part by the Alabama Department of Public Health through a grant from the Balancing Intake Expenditure (BITE) project.
Kids in teams of three played several games, including jump rope, relays, trivia, Connect Four and basketball. Along with learning about healthy life choices, kids got to check out a squad car and an armored personnel carrier from the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.
“I love the police car ...” said Aryana Suren, 6, of Anniston.
“... ’cause it’s cool, and the lights come on!” chimed in Jada Cook, 5, also of Anniston.
Suren said her favorite activity of the day was the shoe relay, in which kids went head-to-head in a race to retrieve their shoes from a big pile. Cook said her favorite was the jump rope competition, and Kiana Huguley, 7, of Anniston, said she liked the cup-stacking challenge.
Speakers at the summit included Michelle Elston of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Services, who spoke with the kids about healthy nutrition and good judgment. “Always make the right choices,” Elston said, and “be a leader to your friends.”
Greg Green of JSU Wellness-Anniston talked about the importance of physical activity and led the kids in some exercise stretches.
David Mahaffey, a former football player for Jacksonville State University, shared his experiences, urging the kids to put academics before sports and that no matter what happens in life, never give up.
In addition to awarding the winners of the summit’s competitive games, members of the center’s JSU Wellness-Anniston Junior Walkers group were recognized for their efforts over the summer. In all, the 42 junior walkers logged 281.37 miles in a month’s time.