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Students from Williamsburg-James City County Schools took over Duke of Gloucester Street and Merchants Square one day last month as part of the School Health Initiative Program’s ongoing efforts to make healthy eating and exercise a fun and visible part kids’ daily lives.
The event, which coincided with the annual “Run the Dog” 5K and the Williamsburg Farmers Market’s Children Day, got kids of all ages running, dancing, cheering and doing karate around Williamsburg on April 23.
The School Health Initiative Program (SHIP), which represents a partnership between the Williamsburg Health Foundation and WJCC Schools, challenges students to be active and eat healthy – two goals that were fully on display during the day’s festivities.
Students from SHIP-sponsored running clubs and other exercise-oriented “Challenge Clubs” participated in the 5K and led demonstrations in yoga, karate, hip-hop dance and ballet.
“We’re glad so many students are running the race,” said Jeanne Zeidler, president and CEO of the Williamsburg Health Foundation, “But we know not all kids like to run. Some like to dance. Some like martial arts. SHIP staff works hard and smart. They offer clubs in which kids can learn what they most like to do.”
Farmers market attendees also had the opportunity to sample some of the latest recipes being served up in WJCC school cafeterias at a special SHIP-sponsored food tent.
“People are surprised when they realize that they are eating something served at school. The food is fresh, tasty, and healthy,” said Betsy Overkamp-Smith, director of public relations and engagement for WJCC Schools. “SHIP and Child Nutrition Services work diligently to create and serve recipes the kids will enjoy again and again.”
More than 500 students, staff and faculty came out to take part in some aspect of the day’s festivities, which both the school system and the Williamsburg Health Foundation hope is a testament to good work SHIP is doing for young people in the community.
“SHIP is a multi-dimensional program that creates greater health opportunity for students in our community by offering chances to be more active inside and outside of the classroom and to learn about, try, and then regularly eat healthier foods,” Zeidler said. “Our goal is to make the healthy choice the easier choice in and around school.”