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April 27, 2014

GOING GREEN: YMCA, Purdue Extension team up for healthy event in New Albany

Three-hour celebration focused on healthy habits and community

NEW ALBANY — For someone who was just doused with water and soiled with green powder as she jogged a one-mile track, Melissa Merida seemed to be in good spirits.

Merida, the youth development educator and county extension director for Floyd County Purdue Extension had just completed the 4-H Color Run at the extension’s Spring Festival, held Saturday at the Purdue Research Park in New Albany.

The Color Run, which was run by about 100 adults and children, was an untimed race. The Purdue website says that there are no winners in a Color Run, but each participant crossed the finish line with a sense of accomplishment to go along with the green stains on their white shirts.

“Some of the Color Runs are known for being all colorful,” Merida said. “But for us, we wanted to promote the green of taking care of being healthy, eating well, eating your green veggies and eating a balanced diet, as well as taking care of the environment and respecting the environment.”

The Color Run capped a three-hour celebration of healthy habits and community at the festival, which simultaneously served as the site for YMCA Southern Indiana’s Healthy Kids Day. The event featured games, face painting, inflatables, contests and prizes for the kids, along with information booths with tips on healthy living for their parents.

“Our focus at the YMCA is for youth development, for healthy living and social responsibility,” said YMCA Teen and Family Director Crystal Hardin. “I really feel like everything we have here encompasses all of those three things.”

It’s the third year of the Purdue Extension Spring Festival and the second year the two organizations have joined forces to hold the kid-friendly event. The event helps raise awareness for what Purdue and 4-H have to offer for children and adults, Merida said.

“It’s a great way for us to showcase Purdue Extension and what we offer, and to also bring people on the Purdue Research Park grounds, because very few people know that there’s a mile walk that they’re welcome to come to that’s beautiful in the back with a little wooded preserve area,” Merida said.

Some 4-H’ers were on hand to show kids what their club is all about. Abigail Kreutner, 13, New Albany, and several other members of the Bailando Llamas and Alpacas 4-H Club led their llamas around the festival, allowing children to pet them while answering questions.

Hardin said she got great feedback from the parents at the event, and even noticed that some of the children in attendance at this year’s Healthy Kids Day arrived wearing last year’s T-shirt. The value that comes with the event will keep people coming back, she said.

“It’s a free event, so they got to get their faces painted for free,” Hardin said. “They won prizes. They didn’t have to pay anything to play any games. The bouncy’s free.

“It’s for the community, and I love to see — as corny as it sounds — all of the smiling faces and happy people.”

 

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Bryden Stafford, 5, New Albany, takes aim at the pie throwing booth during the inaugural Back to School Block Party in front of the Ed Endres Boys and Girls Club along Ekin Avenue in New Albany on Wednesday afternoon. The event was put on by the Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana and the Floyd County Bar Association, and free school supplies were available, as well as refreshments, activities and games.

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