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To the beat of the music, Jeanette Smith, center, leads a group of La Grande Middle School students in an energetic workout session. Fifty sixth-graders from the La Grande School District have been working out each Friday morning in May, for two hours, at the Grande Ronde Fitness Club as part of the National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
May is “National Physical Fitness and Sports Month” — a good opportunity to promote activity that will carry over for the rest of the year, especially among school children.
The Grande Ronde Fitness Club in La Grande and the Baker County YMCA in Baker City are doing just that as they invite school children to their clubs to enjoy a fun workout.
“We have had about 50 sixth-graders from the La Grande School District here each Friday this month to work out on the different stations. It’s part of the ‘Adopt a School’ program for kids’ fitness this month,” Club Manager Cory Sudbrock said.
The fitness club has welcomed the sixth-graders each May for the past 21 years, Sudbrock said.
“They split into groups of five and try out various stations or activities at the club, including ZumbAtomic, boxing fitness, wallyball, Frisbee and swimming,” Sudbrock said. “They actually make a whole day of it. They walk down here to the club from the middle school for a couple hours of activity, and then they actually go to the park after that where they do their own thing. Some of the teachers lead them in kickball and baseball. The fitness part of their day doesn’t end here.”
“We also do lots of things for the school,” said Heidi Dalton, C.E.O. at the Baker County YMCA in Baker City.
For the last two years, Dalton said the staff at the YMCA provided physical education to the school district. That arrangement has changed now, but the club still hosts the schools’ end-of-the-year events.
“Sometimes they will invite us to come in and lead kids through physical activity events at the end of the school year,” Dalton said. “We also have day camps that we offer all summer long. We’ve done that for years and partnered with the school district.”
Sixth-graders from the La Grande School District work out at the Grande Ronde Fitness Club. The club has welcomed sixth-graders each May for the past 21 years. From right, Chaiya Chandler, Noelle Hays and fellow students watch their reflected shadow boxing technique during an intense workout with gloves. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Historically, the Baker County YMCA offered a summer food program, but this is the first year the school district is taking that over.
“But we partner with them,” Dalton said, “so that the kids come to our day camp and then to the summer food program. We also partner with the Literacy Coalition in the county so the kids have an opportunity to eat at the summer food program so they can go right from our day camps to the summer food and the literacy program. After that, they get a free swim pass for participating in the day camp. We try to make the partnership fairly seamless, so kids have an opportunity to do something almost every day all summer.”
The Baker County YMCA has also partnered with other community organizations and businesses.
“For example,” Dalton said, “our camps this year run Mondays through Wednesdays. The Interpretative Center offers camp on Thursdays and Crossroads Art Center offers camp on Fridays. So literally every single day kids have something to do and can be fed. We do lots and lots of things in the county for the kids.”
Baker County YMCA has a fitness center and runs the pool, the Sam-O-Swim Center, which it runs on behalf of the city. The YMCA has a youth program center and hosts most all of the sports activities for the county. They run all the basketball programs and soccer. Baker City doesn’t have a parks and recreation department, so all these activities are held at the YMCA.
“We reach out to North Powder, and we partner with Union sometimes as well as Halfway and Richland,” Dalton said. “We have 2,400 members, or one quarter of population of Baker City, at our YMCA. We serve about 3,500 people through our YMCA, either through youth programs, the fitness center, the pool or preschool.”
Baker City will soon get a new YMCA facility. A 24,000 square-foot warehouse is under renovation and will become their new fitness center where youth programs will be held.
“It will have an indoor elevated track,” Dalton said, “so people can get out of the weather in the middle of winter in Northeast Oregon and stay active.”
The new YMCA facility will be located at 3715 Pocahontas Road.