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Group hopes to foster healthy minds and bodies at Kids Fest

September 25, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Hidden underneath fun activities and a couple of llamas at Ritter Park in Huntington was family-friendly education a local group hopes goes a long way in keeping a healthy mind and body for Huntington’s youth.

Kids Fest, a yearly event hosted by United Way of the River Cities, took over Ritter Park on Sunday with the goal to supply families with free fun including games, activities, prizes and more, all to educate on living a healthy life.

The theme of the event this year was “Healthy bodies. Healthy minds. Healthy future.”

From llamas to a reading corner to informational brochures for parents, a little bit of everything was offered at Sunday’s event, despite a constant downfall of rain.

Lena Burdette, director of the education initiative for UWRC, said the event’s focus was on academic and physical health. Cabell County Schools was giving away books for academic health, and flu shots were offered as part of physical health, she said as a couple of examples. The Huntington Museum of Art was also on hand to show kids how to paint with vegetables.

Carol Bailey, the executive director of UWRC, said the event is specifically designed to highlight the United Way’s Success By 6 initiative.

“All of the different activities that are being presented today and all of the different vendors that have shown up to support the event are involved with the kind of activities and experiences that prepare kids for school,” she said. “And it’s all about school readiness and school success.”

A healthy body and healthy mind go hand and hand with making the Success By 6 initiative work, she said.

“The kids themselves have lots of different activities to be involved in today, and they’re all fun,” she said. “They’re engaging, they’re being creative, so they don’t even realize that they’re learning.”

The Success By 6 initiative seeks to ensure children are ready physically, mentally, developmentally, emotionally and socially to begin kindergarten.

Burdette said the initiative was really about family health altogether.

“Our goal for our Success By 6 initiative is being ready for kindergarten. (It starts) from the day you are born, you know, reading to your babies, keeping yourself healthy to raise a healthy family. All of it goes into a successful childhood and school career.”

UWRC is a nonprofit organization that partners with the local community to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln and Mason counties in West Virginia and Lawrence County in Ohio.

Kids Fest’s sister event, Super Kids, Super Families, Super Saturday, will take place sometime in early 2019 and will feature similar events.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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