By Reggie Ellis

@Reggie_SGN

woodlake – Woodlake families passed a health test with colors flying on Saturday.

Capitalizing on the popularity of color runs – where participants are blasted with colored chalk during the race – Castle Rock Elementary School played host to Tulare County’s first MyPlate Color Run on Feb. 20. More than 500 elementary students and their siblings and parents participated in the event coordinated by the Tulare County Office of Education’s Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Program (NEOP).

“It’s like a dream come true when you see the smiles on all of the kids’ faces while they are learning about nutritious eating and daily exercise,” said NEOP Lead Robyn Cooper.

NEOP held the event in partnership with the Woodlake Unified School District, the California Department of Public Health’s Champions for Change program, the University of California Cooperative Extension and its CalFresh Nutrition Education program, the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency, Family Healthcare Network, Kaweah Delta Health Care District and FoodLink for Tulare County. Each organization manned a station on the run and hosted a physical activity and handed out a nutrious snack based one component of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program regarding daily servings of vegetables, fruits, grains, meat and dairy.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, participants were separated into groups and began the run at designated stations. Children and their families ran from station to station, where they stopped, tried a healthy snack, did a brief physical activity and then get “colored” by volunteers throwing colored corn starch at them. The colors of red, green, blue, purple and orange were used to represent those used by the MyPlate program. All of the healthy snacks were provided by FoodLink of Tulare County.

“We wanted to teach the importance of nutrition and daily exercise at a young age,” said Castle Rock Elementary School Principal Robert Gonzales. “If we can create those habits early on, then they can carry them through the rest of their lives.”

In order to get parents involved, WUSD made it mandatory for students to bring their parents in order to register for the fun activities. In less than one month, WUSD signed up more than 500 students, siblings and parents to participate in the event.

“Color runs are fun for the kids, and we just put more of an overall health twist on it,” she said. “We hope to see more of these events in other communities in Tulare County.”

Cooper said NEOP got the idea from Kern County which held a similar run a little more than a year ago. When she approached potential school’s to host the first of its kind in Tulare County, Cooper said WUSD began making plans in earnest last summer. For more information on the NEOP program, visit www.tcoe.org/nutrition or call Robyn Cooper at 559-651-0130.

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