Liberty Fit fair hopes to turn Liberty Hill into health-conscious community

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By DANA DELGADO

Community leaders partnered with school district officials are preparing to launch a major undertaking that could dramatically affect the culture of the entire community.

If all goes as organizers predict, it could be the beginning of something good, really good, for the community but especially for students.

The event — Liberty Fit Health, Wellness and Safety Fair — is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 4, at Liberty Hill High School. Activities get underway at 10 a.m. and will run through 2:30 p.m. Its catch phrase is, “It’s All About Choices!”

The fair is a unique active and interactive community-wide event that is designed to educate, facilitate discussion, and mobilize students and adults alike to organize and become engaged in continued efforts to enhance their own health as well as the health of their families. A long-term goal is to build and establish partnerships that support healthy environments that could lead to a comprehensive approach to physical activity and healthy habits in schools and throughout the community.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm,” said Diane Candler, chair of the school district’s Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC). “Being the first year there are a lot of unknowns, but it gives us the opportunity to come together as a community.”

“We want to create awareness and give our kids the best opportunities to succeed,” said John Clark, vice-chair of SHAC. “Good health and fitness gets them there. People should expect to learn the importance of health and how it impacts education and walk away from the fair with tools to work with their children to be more aware of what schools are doing to support this.”

The event however, is far more than just a health fair. It promises to be a fun-filled day of activities at no cost for the entire family. Participants can expect various fitness demonstrations and performances that include cheer, dance, yoga, boxing and karate. There will also be a range of medical, fitness and health information booths including dental hygiene, eye care and physical therapy among numerous others some of which will offer free health screenings.

Other booths will offer demonstrations, discussion and information on nutrition. Experts will conduct breakout sessions on a variety of health and wellness topics. In addition, prize drawings will be held.

Last but not least is Kid’s Camp, a fitness challenge that should be an exciting experience for Liberty Hill’s school-age youth through sixth grade. Yet to be announced is a keynote speaker.

Research evidence repeatedly and soundly reports that educational progress and success is profoundly limited if students are not motivated and able to learn. Research identifies health issues as key underlying factors. In a 2010 report, Healthier Students are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reform to Close the Achievement Gap, Charles Basch articulates that no matter the quality of the school buildings nor how well prepared teachers are nor what accountability measures are in place, health differences such as participation and access to physical activity along with eating breakfast and maintaining a nutritious diet, dramatically affect educational opportunities and outcomes of students.

In a comprehensive report on the link between health and achievement, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) states that health-risk behaviors such as violence, unhealthy eating, and physical inactivity are consistently linked to poor grades, lower test scores and educational attainment. It is further noted that health behaviors clearly influence the quality of life for youth and their ability to contribute to and live productively in society.

Discussion about the Liberty Fit Health, Wellness and Safety Fair started in mid-December of 2013 on the heels of a report about the Texas Action for Healthy Kids Summit, which highlighted the strong link between academic achievement and a student’s health.

“Part of the vision is to have the happiest and healthiest town in Texas,” said Clark. “We have the best athletics and the best band. Why not be the town with the best health and overall wellness?”

The catalysts for the event were LHISD Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun, Clark, Mrs. Candler and Bill Burden Elementary PE teacher Kasey Faurie, along with members of SHAC.

District officials report that so many organizations and businesses wanted to participate in the fair that some had to be turned away. Clark and Farmers Insurance and the Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce are the key event sponsors along with SHAC.

Research presented by the CDCP supports the idea that schools and communities that play a critical role in promoting the health and wellness of young people also help them establish lifelong healthy behaviors. Furthermore, healthy, successful students help build strong communities.

“Educators know that healthy, active and well-nourished children have fewer absences, higher academic achievement and self-esteem, and are more likely to stay engaged in the classroom,” said Sherry Hall, LHISD Special Programs Coordinator. “Outside the school day, children need nutritious meals and snacks, and they need play activity. The School Health Advisory Council wants to engage parents and community members in supporting the school’s efforts to instill lifelong habits with students for health and academic success.”

More information on the Health Fair is available on the LHISD website and Facebook page.

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