There are few places in the Sunbury area where Big Walnut folks of all ages and conditions can get an outdoor workout, but now, thanks to students in Alan Franks’ Big Walnut High School Industrial Arts classes and a generous grant from Action for Healthy Kids, members of the community will soon have a complete set of fitness stations along a fitness trail they can use anytime of the day.
Fitness stations contain different outdoor exercise equipment to provide active recreational options along a set pathway, linking the stations into a fitness trail. Conceived in Europe in the 1970’s, fitness trails spread across that continent before becoming popular worldwide. During the 1980’s, commercial gyms and fitness centers emerged as the next big thing, stalling the spread of fitness trails.
The fitness trail concept was neglected, but not forgotten, as exercise enthusiasts continued to patronize parks with fitness station installations; and new fitness trails are returning to urban, suburban and rural parks as residents look for ways to enhance fitness and, at the same time, enjoy the outdoors.
Last Wednesday (April 23) Big Walnut High School teacher and coach Joe Weaver held a brief opening ceremony for the two fitness stations already constructed on the emerging fitness trail. Present for the occasion, in addition to high school students, were Action for Healthy Kids Ohio State Coordinator Kristen O’Connor, Big Walnut Local School District Superintendent Steve Mazzi, assistant superintendent Angie Pollock, high school principal Jeff Jones and Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield.
Weaver asked the students how many fitness options there is in Sunbury that area residents could use every day. Answers included Kore 7 Fitness, the health club in Sunbury Mills Plaza, but Weaver noted that Kore 7 requires a membership fee. Free facilities that students identified include basketball courts, school and village playgrounds, Preservation Parks of Delaware County’s Big Walnut Trail, and the Anthony Kinslow Disc Golf Course at Freedom Park.
“Other than that there’s not a whole lot,” Weaver said. “Now, Big Walnut has teamed with students in Alan Frank’s class, and thanks to a generous Action for Healthy Kids Grant they’ve created a Big Walnut Fitness Trail to give you another place for fitness activities, and get the Sunbury area community involved.”
Weaver said when the Big Walnut Fitness Trail is complete, weather willing by the end of this summer or early fall, one lap with nine to 10 stations will be close to a mile long.
“You can adjust your pace based on your ability level,” Weaver said. “You can walk, jog or run between stations. I can tell you, as a teacher and a coach we will use this trail for conditioning. And it’s not just for students. Everyone can use it. We’re bringing together the Big Walnut community and Big Walnut schools.”
Weaver said he thanks 2013 Big Walnut graduate Anthony Roberto for the trail design, and all the students who pitched in to construct the first two stations.
“I would like to especially thank Kristen O’Connor and Action for Healthy Kids, the Village of Sunbury for providing mulch, and our administrators for supporting this project,” Weaver added.
O’Connor said Action for Healthy Kids is a national non-profit organization founded in 2002 by former Surgeon General David Satcher; and today, at the local level, Action For Healthy Kids helps schools through grant funding as well as by providing resources and technical assistance.
“We fight childhood obesity, undernourishment and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can live healthier lives,” O’Connor said. “Our goal is to create school communities in which children learn how to make healthy choices from the minute they walk in the front door to the minute they leave at the end of the school day.”
For additional information about Action for Healthy Kids go to < actionforhealthykids.org >; for additional information about Ohio Action for Healthy Kids go to < ohioactionforhealthykids.org >.
To use either or both of the first two fitness stations simply stop at Big Walnut High School. Stations are located on the football practice field and near the south end of the building near the Ag Science parking area.